One week after deadly al-Shabab attacks on a Kenyan university in Garissa, a Nairobi morgue has started to release the bodies of some of the 148 people killed.
Coffins were released to grieving families, who prepared to take their relatives home for burial.
The attackers from the al-Qaeda-aligned group had killed the victims, including 142 students, after storming the Garissa University College in Kenya’s northeast on April 2.
After besieging the university, the attackers lined up non-Muslims before executing them.
Robert Muchiri, a cousin of 21-year-old Mary Muchiri, who was killed in the Garissa attack, told the Associated Press news agency that the bodies were “very much destroyed”.
“It was hard to identify the body, but our cousin had managed to identify the body, so we had no difficulties,” Muchiri said.
“Only that we were waiting, we were eager, we were tensioned [tense], but by the government, but at least they have done something.”
Bright stars extinguished
As the bodies were released on Wednesday, many family members described the death of a child in the Garissa slaughter as not just an emotional blow, but also the loss of an “investment” into which they had poured money and hopes.
Making it to university is a big achievement in Kenya, where many people do not get opportunities that open the way to a financially secure life.
Some home villages of the dead students, seen as bright stars who were making their communities proud, were reportedly experiencing collective grief.
Three days of official mourning across the country ended on Tuesday night. Hundreds of people attended a vigil in Nairobi’s Freedom Park, where an interim shrine of crosses and candles had been set up.
Among those at the vigil were survivors of the massacre.
“I just feel like crying. I don’t [know] what wrong did they do [to] have departed and what did I do to deserve to still be here. I just feel like crying,” survivor Maryam Njeri told Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, the hashtag #148notjustanumber trended and remained frequently shared on Thursday on social media application Twitter, with users calling attention to the victims identities.
Remittance firms targeted
As it stepped up its crackdown against the Somalia-based al-Shabab, the Kenyan government suspended the licences of 13 Somali remittance firms, Somalia’s central bank governor said on Wednesday.
Kenya also published a list of groups it considered “terrorist” organisations and a list of entities it suspected of being associated with al-Shabab. Their bank accounts have been frozen.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi on Wednesday, said the list of 86 entities included businessmen, money-transfer companies, bus companies operating between Nairobi and the country’s northeast, Muslim imams and a Muslim human rights organisation.
Kenya has also arrested five suspects accused of supplying weapons to the attackers. Four of the men were killed at the end of the siege and their bodies were later displayed in Garissa.
On Monday the Kenyan air force said it destroyed two al-Shabab camps in the Gedo region of Somalia, in its first military response since the massacre.