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Support pledge after Kenya massacre

Support for Kenya in fighting terrorist groups has been pledged by the Government after gunmen killed up to 160 students in a brutal attack on a university today.

Somali-based Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the shooting at Garissa University College in the north east of the country, which authorities said has now ended.

Dozens of hostages have been freed but conflicting reports put the death toll at between 70 and 160, with nightfall and no electric light making an accurate count difficult.

The UK's Minister for Africa James Duddridge said: "I strongly condemn the attack that took place this morning in Garissa, Kenya. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died.

"There can be no place for such senseless acts of violence in our societies.

"The UK will continue to stand by and support the Kenyan government in its fight against terrorism, and in its efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this barbaric act."

Former prime minister-turned education campaigner Gordon Brown called earlier for the "immediate and safe release" of students as he condemned the use of universities as "theatres of violence".

He said: "Gunmen from the militant group al-Shabab, who have shot and taken hostage students in Kenya today, must be sent a message that attacks on schools, colleges and universities are crimes against humanity and that educational establishments are designed as safe havens, deserving protection in exactly the same way in the Geneva Conventions as Red Cross hospitals.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the staff, students, family and people of Kenya impacted by today's heinous attack."

As Mr Brown called for the release of the hostages, he remembered the hundreds of other students who have been killed or captured by terrorist groups - including more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria, almost a year ago, the murder of 120 students in an attack in Pakistan several months ago, and the abduction of boys from schools in South Sudan to serve as child soldiers.

"There have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools and educational establishments during the past five years. This is unacceptable and individuals and armed groups using schools as theatres of violence must be brought to justice."


From Belfast Telegraph