Kenyan college gunman was government official’s son

A young girl holds a candle during a Easter service at the Catholic Our Lady of Consolation Church in Garissa as the college victims were remembered. Picture: Getty
A young girl holds a candle during a Easter service at the Catholic Our Lady of Consolation Church in Garissa as the college victims were remembered. Picture: Getty
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THE SON of a Kenyan government official has been identified as one of the gunmen who attacked a Kenyan college where 148 people were killed.

Abdirahim Mohammed Abdullahi, one of the Islamic extremists who attacked Garissa University College, was the son of a government chief in Mandera county, interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said.

The chief had reported his son missing last year and said he feared he had gone to Somalia, said Mr Njoka. All four attackers were killed by Kenyan security forces on Thursday, said police.

Abdullahi graduated from the University of Nairobi with a law degree in 2013 and was viewed as a “brilliant upcoming lawyer”. It is not clear where he worked before he disappeared last year, Mr Njoka said.

To prevent an escalation of Islamic radicalisation in Kenya, it is important that parents inform authorities if their children go missing or show tendencies of following violent extremism, said Mr Njoka.

Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic militants claimed responsibility for the attack on Garissa College saying it is retribution for Kenya deploying troops to Somalia to fight the extremist rebels.

The news that one of the attackers was Kenyan came as grieving Christians prayed, sang and clapped hands at an Easter Sunday service at a Catholic church in Garissa.

Security forces patrolled the perimeter of Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked by militants almost three years ago. Grenades lobbed at the building sprayed shrapnel into the interior, injuring some worshippers. Another Garissa church was also attacked that day and 17 people were killed.

Yesterday’s ceremony was laden with emotion for the several hundred members of Garissa’s Christian minority, which is fearful following the attack by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic extremist group. The gunmen who attacked Garissa University College on Thursday singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years.

“We just keep on praying that God can help us, to comfort us in this difficult time,” said Dominick Odhiambo, a worshipper who said he planned to abandon his job as a plumber in Garissa and leave for his hometown because he was afraid.

“Thank you for coming, so many of you,” Bishop Joseph Alessandro said to the congregation. He said some of those who died in Thursday’s attack would have been at the service, and he read condolence messages from around the world.

Bishop Alessandro saw a parallel between the ordeal of Jesus Christ and that of Garissa.

“We join the sufferings of the relatives and the victims with the sufferings of Jesus,” he said. “The victims will rise again with Christ.”

Bishop Alessandro, who is from Malta, first came to Garissa in 1989 and was shot and injured by bandits on a trip outside the town several years later.

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