Cynthia Charotich, 19, said from her hospital bed that she hid in a large cupboard and covered herself with clothes, refusing to emerge even when some of her classmates came out of hiding at the demands of the gunmen from the al-Shabab terrorist group.
The news of Charotich’s remarkable survival came as al-Shabab, the Somali extremists behind the worst terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, warned of more attacks like the assault on Garissa College.
According to the SITE intelligence monitoring group, the Islamic militant group issued a statement yesterday which said the attack on Garissa University College was retaliation for killings carried out by Kenyan troops fighting the rebels in Somalia.
“Kenyan cities will run red with blood,” the statement said.
Kenyan officials said Charotich was rescued shortly before 10am yesterday. She said she did not believe that rescuers urging her to come out of her hiding place were there to help, suspecting that they were militants.
“How do I know that you are the Kenyan police?” she asked them. Only when Kenyan security forces had one of her teachers appeal to her did she come out, she said.
“I was just praying to my God,” Charotich, a Christian, like 70 per cent of Kenya’s population, said of her ordeal.
Charotich appeared tired and thirsty, sipping on yoghurt and a soft drink, but otherwise seemed in good health.
She said she drank a lotion because she was so thirsty and hungry while in hiding.
Another student, Elosy Karimi, told how she had hidden in the ceiling above her bunkbed as the militants called for her classmates to leave the room.
Gunfire was ringing all around her. People were screaming. It was pre-dawn and pitch black. “If you want to survive, come out!” the militants yelled. “If you want to die, stay inside!”
In the terrifying confusion, Karimi, 23, decided to risk staying inside and remained hidden for the next 28 hours.
Five people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Garissa attack.
Kenyan security agencies arrested three people trying to cross into Somalia, Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said in a Twitter post.
He added that the three are associates of Mohamed Mohamud, also known as Dulyadin Gamadhere, a former teacher at a Kenyan Madrassa Islamic school whom authorities say coordinated the Garissa attack.
Kenyan authorities have put up a $220,000 (£147,000) bounty for information leading to Gamadhere’s arrest.
Two other suspects were arrested at Garissa college.
The worst al-Shabab attack before this week was on Nairobi’s Westgate mall in 2013, when a few young al-Shabab gunmen killed dozens of shoppers, including small children.
Grieving Kenyans this weekend gathered in Nairobi to view the bodies of family members killed in the Garissa attack.
The corpses were transported to Kenya’s capital due to a lack of facilities in the local town.
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