Four-hour blackout ‘hit college before attack’

By: VINCENT AGOYA

A blackout that lasted four hours hit the Garissa University College before the terrorist attack in which 149 people were killed, a witness said on Tuesday.

Mr Collins Waliula, a survivor of the April 2 massacre, said all security lights at the institution “were unusually off” prior to the killings.

The witness recalled that on the fateful day he was in the company of 10 students, who had travelled from Moi University and arrived at the campus at 1am.

“When we reached the gate, we found the security lights off, which was unusual,” said Mr Waliula. “The campus was in total darkness.”

He said since they were tired due to the trip from Moi University, none of them “bothered to find out why the lights were off, so we went straight to sleep”.

Mr Waliula was the first prosecution witness to appear before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Daniel Ogembo in a terrorist case against five men.

He said gunshots rang out around 5am but he and a roommate opted to remain in their cubicle.

THE KILLERS

The men charged with carrying out the attack are Mr Mohamed Ali Abdikar, Mr Hassan Aden Hassan, Mr Sahal Diriye, Mr Osman Abdi and Mr Rashid Charles, a Tanzanian.

All of them have denied 162 counts of terrorism.

“Gunshots rent the air for a while and I heard colleagues running up and down in the hostels. At first I thought it was an ordinary robbery but the situation degenerated into something serious as the shooting continued,” said Mr Waliula.

The witness said he overheard one of the attackers shout in Kiswahili that “those jumping over the fence be shot in the legs”.

He said the attackers may have been “locals” as he overheard them identifying by name some students who had been killed.

He said he tried to peep through the window of his room but could not see the terrorists until 8am, when soldiers started engaging the attackers.

“I came out of my room and ran to where the soldiers were amid more gunshots. That is how I escaped. I was then taken to a military camp in Garissa Town,” he said.

Defence lawyers Steve Mogaka and Mbugua Mureithi sought to know from the witness the security situation at the university prior to the attack.

Mr Waliula said two guards manned the main gate, while two police officers could patrol the campus during the day and at night.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION