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Africa

#GarissaUniversityReopens: Nine months after the al-Shabab massacre

Less then a year after Islamist militants killed 148 at a university in the East of Kenya, students are set to return to classes next week. Kenyans state their support on social media.

Nine months after 148 were killed by al-Shabab gunmen, most of them students, Garissa University has reopened it's doors to students and staff. Staff members are returning to the campus this week and classes will commence on January 11.

Students had been transferred to another university for the time period between the attack and the reopening. However, it is unclear how many students will be transferring back to the university. Garissa University is located some 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the border to war-torn Somalia and 260 kilometers from the capital Nairobi.

Under the hashtag #GarissaUniversityReopens, Kenyan Twitter users have been stating their support for the re-opening of the campus. Most are saying that the move is an important sign showing that the country will not crumble in the face of terrorist attacks.

Students held hostage

Less then a year ago, four gunmen linked to the militant group al-Shabab stormed the university taking around 700 students hostage. According to witnesses they had posed as worshippers in a mosque before starting the attack. After taking several students as hostages, they allegedly released all Muslims while executing people who said they were Christians. The attack lasted around 15 hours before the gunmen were killed by Kenyan security forces after being cornered in a dormitory.

After the attack, the Kenyan government came under intense criticism because it took the security forces hours to arrive at the campus and put an end to the hostage situation.

Al-Shabab's trail of terror

This was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 US Embassy bombings which killed over 200. Al-Shabab attackers also killed over 60 people in an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013.

Al-Shabab claims that the attacks are payback for the presence of Kenyan armed forces in Somalia, where the militant group is fighting the government for control of the country.

Terror drills and tighter security

The government has assured students and parents that appropriate security measures have been put into place to prevent such an attack from happening again. A new police post has been built and 25 policemen are now stationed at the university.

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