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Kenya: Two dead in Garissa University College hostage crisis

Masked gunmen have stormed Kenya’s Garissa University College near the Somali border, killing at least two people and injuring about 30.

Troops have surrounded the university and are engaging the attackers.

Witnesses spoke of the gunmen firing indiscriminately and there are fears the casualty toll could rise.

It is not clear who is behind the attack, but Somali al-Shabab militants have regularly targeted Kenya.

Garissa and other border areas have been regularly attacked.

Some five masked gunmen are said to have stormed the university. There are reports that hostages have been taken.

Kenyan police said the gunmen shot guards at the main gate at about 05:30 local time.Somali al-Shabab militants suspected to be involved in Garissa University attack in Kenya

Nearby policemen then engaged in a fierce exchange of fire and the gunmen escaped into the university buildings.

Security forces were now trying to “flush them out”, a police statement said. It urged people to stay away from the area.

Two guards were confirmed killed at the main university gate, with two policemen and a student among the injured. But eyewitnesses spoke of many casualties inside the building.

The gunmen reportedly ordered students to lie down on the floor, but at least 27 are known to have escaped and are at a military facility.

Kenyan Red Cross spokeswoman Arnolda Shiundu said there were about 30 casualties, four of whom were critical.

Three people – two soldiers and a civilian – had been airlifted to the capital, Nairobi, Arnolda Shiundu said.

The university opened in 2011 and is the only place of higher education in the region. It has some 900 students, 700 of them from other parts of Kenya.

Garissa, 90 miles from the border with Somalia, has a large population of Kenyan Somalis.

Al-Shabab has carried out a number of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan troops were sent to Somalia to help fight the militant group there.

The deadliest attack targeted the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi in September 2013, when 67 people were killed.

Al-Shabab is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia and is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and Western Europe.

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