Inside Story

Garissa attack: Could it have been prevented?

Grief turns to anger as questions are asked of the Kenyan security services.

Days after al-Shabab gunmen stormed a university in Garissa, killing 148 people, the task of identifying the dead continues.

The attack has deeply shocked a nation which in September 2013 suffered a similar loss of life in the Westgate Mall attack. That was also blamed on al-Shabab.

And now, like then, Kenyans are asking why their government did not do more to prevent the attack.

A major Kenyan newspaper suggests it took up to seven hours for special forces to be deployed to the university, after news of an attack first broke.

And locals in Garissa are asking why security was not increased despite intelligence reports that suggested al-Shabab had been planning an attack, days before it happened.

And away from the apparent security failures, the attack has also put northeastern Kenya under the spotlight.

Many of the people who live there are Somali.

And have suffered from what is described as government discrimination and heavy handed police tactics. A combination, say some analysts, that has created the perfect breeding ground for al-Shabab.

So should the Kenyan government have done more to prevent this attack? And what problems need to be addressed in northeastern Kenya to help stop a similar attack happening again?

Presenter: Mike Hanna


Farah Maalim – former deputy speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly

Ahmed Salim – East Africa risk and security analyst and senior associate at Teneo Intelligence

Peter Alingo – office head and senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi