The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said the killing of almost 150 people in a Kenyan university should be seen as the first salvo in what will be a long war that will target civilians and turn the country’s streets “red with blood.” In a statement confirmed by the SITE intelligence monitoring group, the terrorists aligned with al-Qaida vowed that “this will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties,” reports the Associated Press. The attack on Garissa University amounted to revenge for the country’s mistreatment of Muslims as well as military presence in Somalia, according to the message.
Kenyan authorities, meanwhile, said they have detained five people, some of whom were caught while trying to cross the border into Somalia. “They are under interrogation and we hope to make more arrests with their leads,” a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told Bloomberg.
Amid all the tragedy there was a bit of good news, too, as a survivor emerged from two days of hiding. The terrified 19-year-old girl was found inside a wardrobe on Saturday. Authorities had to bring in a teacher to convince her it was safe to come out, according to the BBC.
Hundreds of Garissa residents came out on Saturday to see the bodies of the four militants who allegedly carried out the attack. Authorities put the bodies in the back of a pickup truck hoping that local residents could give them leads to try to figure out their identities. “The truck paraded the bodies through town as residents ran alongside, clamoring for a glimpse, until it arrived at Garissa Primary School,” reports the Washington Post. “There, it parked, and the bodies sat. Flies gathered on the bloated limbs hanging from the truck bed as the crowd continued to swell.”
Earlier, President Obama vowed to stand “hand-in-hand” with Kenya, promising to go ahead with his planned trip to the country this summer. “Words cannot adequately condemn the terrorist atrocities that took place at Garissa University College, where innocent men and women were brazenly and brutally massacred,” he said on Friday in a statement with first lady Michelle Obama, according to the Hill. “This much is clear: The future of Kenya will not be defined by violence and terror; it will be shaped by young people like those at Garissa University College—by their talents, their hopes, and their achievements,” he said. “This is a message I will relay to the Kenyan people when I visit Kenya in July.”