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Kenyans Mourn Dead From Al-Shabab Attack

Kenyan Christians pray as they join a morning service at Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday.
Sayyid Azim
Kenyan Christians pray as they join a morning service at Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday.

Many Kenyans are spending Easter Sunday mourning the 148 people killed in an attack by al-Shabab gunmen on a university campus last week, amid reports that the son of a senior government official was among the assailants.

The gunman in question – one of four killed during the siege at Garissa College – was Abdirahim Mohammed Abdullahi, the son of the local chief in Mandera County, The Associated Press and the BBC report.

"The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home ... and was helping the police try to trace his son by the time the Garissa terror attack happened," ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told the BBC.

Abdullahi, was reportedly a 2013 law graduate of the University of Nairobi.

The attack by Somali-based al-Shabab was the deadliest in the east African country since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. NPR's Gregory Warner reports that it has called into question Kenyan security.

Gregory says: "Kenya's interior minister called the campus terror attack 'a surprise.' Extra police had been sent to guard the campus that morning because of terrorism warnings. Now senior army officers have revealed to local reporters that Kenya's elite special forces trained by the U.S. for this kind of closed quarter combat were not dispatched to the scene until 7 hours into the massacre, after most students were likely already dead."

The AP reports:

"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."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.