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Africa

Nairobi students protest over Garissa massacre

As Kenyan authorities continue the search for those responsible for last week's Garissa massacre, students in Nairobi paid their respects to the dead and called on the government to improve national security.

Kenyans took to the streets in the capital Nairobi on Tuesday in protest at alarming gaps in national security exposed by the massacre by Somali al-Shabab militants in the eastern city of Garissa last week in which 148 people died.

200 students marched through Nairobi waving placards. Some slapped vehicles with their hands as they made their way through the streets, chanting "you are not safe, you are not safe!"

Maureen Mucheri, 21, an engineering student at Nairobi University, told the AP news agency she feared another attack and would not go into shopping malls and churches, because "the government is doing nothing."

Some students carried flowers, others stopped to light candles.

"We are mourning the loss of our fellow comrades, we have lost the vibrant blood that would have built tomorrow's Kenya," Mucheri added.

A vigil was planned for Tuesday evening in Nairobi according to the organizer, civil society activist Boniface Mwangi, who urged Kenyans to appear dressed in black and bearing flowers.

A grieving student at Garissa University College is comfoted by those around him.

Nairobi demonstrators were showing solidarity with Garissa students in mourning after the massacre

Mwangi is deeply critical of Kenyan security. "Entrenched corruption in the security system allows al-Shabab to move freely in and out of Kenya and carry out such attacks," he told the AFP news agency.

Garissa is located just 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the Somali border, but Kenyans are still wondering why it took special forces seven hours to arrive at the city's university campus.

'Barbaric medieval slaughter'

There is also the fear that al-Shabab are now deeply entrenched in Kenya.

"Somebody from outside can't know our country. So it is only people who are within," one Nairobi resident told DW's correspondent in the Kenyan capital, James Shimanyula, on Monday.

In Thursday's 16-hour attack on the Garissa campus - for which al-Shabab has claimed responsibility - the militants lined up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as "barbaric medieval slaughter."

Five men have been arrested in connection with the attack - three 'coordinators' who were captured while fleeing towards Somalia and two others who were seized on the campus itself. Four gunmen were killed and one has been named as a Kenyan, highlighting fears about infiltration by al-Shabab.

Ndung'u Githenji, who chairs the parliamentary defense committee in Nairobi, told AFP that al-Shabab had "sleeper terrorist cells" in Garissa.

Al-Shabab have struck several times on Kenyan soil, but last week's assault was the deadliest. 67 people died in an assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013.

Karte Kenia Anschlag Garissa Englisch

Special forces took seven hours to reach Garissa on the day of the attack

Kenyan operations against al-Shabab

Kenya has troops stationed in Somalia as part of an African Union mission which is backing the Mogadishu government in its struggle against al-Shabab.

Kenyan fighter jets pounded camps belonging to the group on Sunday and Monday. They targeted the Gedo region of Somalia just across the border from Kenya. A military spokesman said the airstrikes "were part of continuing operations and not just in response to Garissa."

But one Nairobi resident told DW the government should pull Kenyan troops put of Somalia. "Instead of them being in Somalia, they should be guarding us. I feel the enemy is within us."

Rights activists warn against sowing distrust within Kenya's communities.

"Let's remember that Kenya's Somali and Muslim communities make up a large proportion of the Kenyan population and these are people the Kenyan police and military need to work with," Leslie Lefkow of Human Rights Watch told DW.

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