GARISSA, Kenya — Authorities have identified one of the al-Shabab gunmen responsible for the massacre at a Kenyan university last week that killed 148 students as the son of a Kenyan official.

A chief in Mandera County had reported his son missing last year, fearing that he had gone to Somalia. His worst fears were confirmed on Sunday, when his son, Abdirahim Mohammed Abdullahi, was named as one of those responsible for the attack. Abdullahi was a University of Nairobi graduate who received a law degree in 2013.

All four attackers who struck at the campus of Garissa University College on Thursday were killed by security forces. More than 500 students were rescued,

The news about Abdullahi came as Garissa’s Christian residents celebrated Easter Sunday. Garissa’s minority Christian population has been on edge since the news broke that the attackers had targeted Christian students, with tensions running particularly high on Easter morning.

And yet, the pews of Cathedral parish in Garissa were full, packed with residents coming to worship and mourn in the aftermath of Kenya’s worst terrorist attack in almost two decades.

“We encouraged the Christians first of all to take what has happened in a positive way, not to have that anger to revenge,” said the Rev. Clement Khiyaniri, preaching words of reconciliation. “They should not take it as a religious issue because it’s not Christians versus Muslims. These are terrorists who are killing people even in their own land.”


After the attack, al-Shabab issued a chilling threat that its terrorizing of Kenya was far from over.

“Kenyan cities will run red with blood,” al-Shabab said, according to the SITE intelligence monitoring group. “No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath.”

A Kenyan official said last week that five people suspected of involvement in the massacre had been arrested and that the government is pursuing other suspects, including Mohamed Mohamud. He is a former teacher at a Kenyan madrassa, or Islamic school, and the alleged mastermind of the attack.

The assault on the university is the worst attack in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 224 people. An attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013 left 67 dead.

As it had with its previous assaults in Kenya, which have killed more than 200 Kenyans in two years, al-Shabab said the attacks were in retaliation for Kenya’s 2011 invasion of Somalia and its continued presence in the country. The invasion was allegedly in response to the kidnapping of Westerners in Kenya.

“Since October 2011, Kenya has been the most insecure that we have seen in decades. If going into Somalia was to secure Kenya, then they have failed,” said Abdullahi Halakhe, a Horn of Africa analyst with Amnesty International.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.