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Obama Says U.S. Stands With Kenya After al-Shabab Attack on College

Obama reaffirmed to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta his commitment to visiting Kenya in July for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
/ Source: NBC News

President Barack Obama called Kenya's president Friday to express condolences to the country's residents and offer the support of the United States after gunmen stormed a college and killed at least 147 people in a shocking rampage.

Obama also reaffirmed to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta his commitment to visiting Kenya in July for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit — a trip that was announced just three days before the attack on Garissa University College early Thursday morning.

"Words cannot adequately condemn the terrorist atrocities that took place at Garissa University College, where innocent men and women were brazenly and brutally massacred," Obama said in a statement.

"We will stand hand-in-hand with the Kenyan government and people against the scourge of terrorism and in their efforts to bring communities together," Obama said.

The four gunmen, wielding AK-47s and wearing explosive vests, targeted Christians and took hostages. All four attackers were killed by security forces fifteen hours after the violence began, authorities said. Al-Shabab, a Somali-based extremist group with ties to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

"I know that the people of Garissa and all of Kenya will grieve, but their determination to achieve a better and more secure future will not be deterred," Obama said.

But some in Kenya are questioning the security that was in place before the attack.

Last week, warnings of possible militant violence were posted at several Kenyan universities, and Australia and Britain urged their residents to avoid certain parts of the country because of of similar concerns. But Kenyatta criticized the foreign warnings, and encouraged tourism to Kenya.

"It's because of laxity by the government that these things are happening. For something like this to happen when there are those rumors is unacceptable," Mohamed Salat, a Somali Kenyan businessman, told Reuters.

Kenyan authorities said the warnings weren't specific enough. "Intelligence can only go as far as the reliability and accuracy of the information that has been provided," said the chairman of the Kenya Defense Committee, N'Dungu Githenji.


— Elisha Fieldstadt