1052 GMT February 16, 2020
Critics said Sunday that it took Kenyan forces at least seven hours to deploy troops to the town, located some 365 kilometers (225 miles) from the capital, Nairobi, Press TV said.
Kenyan media criticized the government for a slow response to the attack, saying the "negligence" could be considered unlawful.
Somalia-based al-Shabab militants carried out the attack against the Garissa University College campus during the early hours of April 2. However, the main response team first arrived at the site just before 2:00 p.m. local time, the country’s major newspaper Nation said, noting that the first aircraft carried the country’s Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery and police chief Joseph Boinet.
According to reports, a number of Nairobi-based journalists who drove to Garissa after receiving the first reports of the attack arrived before the special forces, who came by air.
“This is negligence on a scale that borders on the criminal,” the Nation wrote on Sunday, recalling how survivors said “the gunmen, who killed scores of students with obvious relish, took their time.”
In response, the interior ministry spokesman, Mwenda Njoka, rejected the criticism, saying, “If you look at how we responded, it was not bad at all, say, compared to Westgate,” referring to an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that tuned into a four-day siege that left more than 60 people dead.
“It takes time to assess and make the decisions, escalating it from National Security Advisory Committee to the National Security Council and then to scramble the elite units, get them to the airport and fly them to Garissa, which is a two-hour flight. There were many moving parts,” said Njoka.
Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed also defended Nairobi’s response by saying that “fighting terrorism... is like being a goalkeeper.”
“You have 100 saves, and nobody remembers them. They remember that one that went past you.”
Kenya began on Sunday three days of national mourning for the victims of the university massacre, in which ceremonies were to be held in remembrance of those killed and flags were to be lowered to half mast.
The fatalities include 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers. In addition, four of the attackers were also killed.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged that his administration will respond to the bloody attack in the severest possible way.