Suspected Islamist militants stormed a university campus in eastern Kenya, taking students and teachers hostage, police said.
An unknown number of heavily-armed assailants raided student accommodation at Garissa University College on Thursday morning, police Commander Charles Kinyua said by phone. The college is located in Garissa town about 228 miles (367 kilometers) east of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
“They stormed the hostel immediately after Muslim morning prayers and fired indiscriminately at students who were fleeing,” Kinyua said. Other students remain in the building and security forces and Kenyan troops are exchanging gunfire with the assailants, who authorities suspect belong to the al-Shabaab militant group, he said.
Kenya’s state-run National Disaster Operation Centre said on its Twitter account that two people were killed and four injured. Kinyua said he didn’t yet have casualty numbers. The Daily Nation newspaper cited police Inspector General Joseph Boinett as saying there was a shootout between assailants and police guarding the student hostels.
Attacks in Kenya soared after the government in 2011 sent troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabaab following a wave of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya that the government blamed on the group.
In September 2013, the Islamist militia claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead and the country has faced bombings of bars, churches, and markets.