Photos:Inside Garissa hotels where terrorists slept
Anti-Terrorism Police Unit teams camped in Garissa are still piecing together details of where terrorists who attacked Garissa University College over a week ago had put up in the town prior to their heinous act.
Investigations by a People Daily team in Garissa indicate detectives have zeroed in on two posh hotels, one owned by a top politician, as the places where the terrorists spent Wednesday-Thursday night before striking the university at 5.30am.
Apart from the four gunmen who invaded the university, detectives believe five or more other terrorists backing up the attackers, were also in the town or at the institution mingling with the students. Five people were arrested in Garissa that day and have been charged in a Nairobi court with aiding the terrorists.
The People Daily team slept in each of the two ornately-furnished hotels during the weekend and extensively talked to staff members, but most were shy to reveal any details of the evil guests who sought residence at the facilities.
In the hotel owned by the politician, one staff member involved with accommodation, who declined to reveal his name, said four male guests spent Thursday night there in separate rooms which were all booked by one of them.
We could not access the hotel record for bookings, but the worker confirmed everyone in the facility knew the four gunmen slept at the hotel. He said he heard other hotel workers say the four ate dinner of spaghetti, rice and fried soft goat meat known as arosto at the hotel and retreated to their rooms.
“The hotel had many guests with the weekend approaching and no one seems to remember them well,” said the worker. He said, apart from the security at the entrances, no one had details of what time they left in the morning as many guests who are on transit usually depart early in the morning.
He said many employees at the hotel had been questioned by detectives who have also taken away the booking records for that day. An attempt by the People Daily team to be booked into the rooms where the four guests slept was received with hostile reaction by a member of the management who denied such guests had stayed at the hotel.
The back-up team of terrorists is suspected to have slept in the second hotel. At both hotels, few questions are asked during a guest’s booking apart from filling a card that takes in few personal details like name, ID card number and telephone number.
Provided one has paid, departure is a light ceremony in the morning. One could even go without alerting reception by just showing the paid receipt to the gate guards.
In the first floor room of the politician’s hotel, the beds are cosy with double spring mattresses and sparkling white sheets.
The smoothly tiled rooms have free Wi-Fi network and intercom connection. The terrorists, from their room windows must have had a good view of Garissa town and the road they would follow in the morning, a walking distance to their target, Garissa University College.
It was not exactly clear what time they left in the morning, nor what means of transport they used. The hotel which opens at 6am must still have been closed when they left. In the second hotel, nearly all staff were quiet on all enquiries about the suspect guests said to have stayed there.
It is now known that on the evening of Wednesday the terrorists shopped at the Naivas Garissa branch. However, security sources said it is confirmed another batch of terrorists, who did not take active part in the attack, lodged there.
On Thursday morning the heavily armed gunmen who appeared to know well their way around the college run over the four poorly armed Regular and Administration Police officers guarding the university gate and rampaged the university in a merciless killing spree.
Four watchmen at the gate of the university were the first victims confirmed by a pool of congealed blood splashed in one corner of the gate.
Two died from gunshot wounds while two are recovering. The attackers entered the university headed for two lecture rooms, LH1 and LH 2 where over a dozen students were holding early morning Christian union prayers.
After shooting students the militants charged towards the two main hostels where the main carnage appears to have taken place, as confirmed by drying pools of blood at the Elgon A and B hostel. “After the attack, there were piles of human being, most dead, some alive. Blood everywhere. I wish I had not seen this,” university guard Abdi Yusuf told the People Daily.
The students in the Elgon hostel appear to have rushed to leave the place after hearing the first round of shooting, and that was apparently where they bumped into the waiting militants who were blocking the only exit. Inside the ground floor of the hostel, there is still drying up blood everywhere, almost on every inch of it. Those who had hid behind rows of beds were shot, one by one, in the head. Bullet riddled mattresses show there was no place to hide.