147 students were killed Thursday morning following an attack at Garissa University College in Kenya, according to a tweet by the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre. 79 students were injured and 587 were evacuated, according to the agency.
Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. According to CNN, four gunmen were killed.
The attack began with an explosion and gunshots at around 5:30 a.m., followed by the group’s entrance into the university and halt at the women’s residence hall. The militants continued to fire and took hostages while singling out non-muslims during the morning prayer services, according to CNN.
The siege lasted for nearly 15 hours while gunmen and police exchanged fire, according to Reuters.
This is the highest death toll on Kenyan soil since more than 200 were killed in 1998 when the U.S. Embassy at Nairobi was bombed. That attack was linked to members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
There are normally four guards on the university campus overnight, according to Jackstone Kwyeu, dean of students.
Kenyan President Uhru Kenyatta encouraged the country to stay strong as its forces worked toward safety.
“This is a moment for everyone throughout the country to be vigilant as we continue to confront and defeat our enemies,” Kenyatta said.
The Kenyan Interior Ministry posted a “Most Wanted” notice Thursday for Mohamed Mohamud, the man linked to the attacks. The reward is 20 million Kenyan Shillings, or $215,000.
The notice does not specify what role the man may have played in the attack.
This is not the first attack made by the militant group Al-Shabaab in the region. In 2013, 67 were killed in an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall.