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Al-Shabab gunmen attack college in Kenya, take hostages

Gunmen with the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group stormed Garissa University College in eastern Kenya on Thursday, taking an unknown number of hostages from the dormitories and reportedly killing dozens.

As many as 147 people were killed in the attack, the New York Times reported. According to earlier reports from the Associated Press, Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said more than 70 people have been killed including two of the gunmen, and more than 70 people were injured.

The incident occurred early Thursday morning. Witnesses said the gunmen separated the Christian from the Muslim students and immediately shot the Christians. Many of the more than 800 students fled the school upon hearing gunshots.

It was the largest attack in Kenya since the siege on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which killed 67 people in September 2013. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that assault.

“We continue to pray for the quick recovery of the injured and the safe rescue of those still being held hostage,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised address. He also said the government has deployed forces to the area, and he urged Kenyans to “stay calm as we resolve this matter.”

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya issued a statement on Thursday, condemning “al-Shabab’s heinous terrorist attack,” which “once again reinforces the need for all countries and communities to unite in the effort to combat violent extremism.”