GARISSA, Kenya — A Kenyan teenager who was found alive on Saturday, two days after an Islamic terror group carried out a bloody massacre on her university, says that she hid in a closet and drank lotion to survive while praying to God.
“I was just praying to my God, saying that if it has come to my day, it has reached. But if it not yet, let God decide whatever He likes,” Cynthia Cheroitich, 19, told reporters from a local hospital yesterday.
The Christian teen was found by security forces who had arrived to take the bodies of the 148 people killed in the attack. She told reporters as she took nourishment on a gurney that members of Al-Shabaab divided students into those who could read Arabic and those who could not.
Cheroitich decided to hide in the closet at her dormitory as the gunmen had warned that if students hid under the beds, they would “come out very fast.”
“I then entered into that place and I covered myself with clothes,” she told reporters.
But as time passed, Cheroitich felt hungry and thirsty. She found a bottle of lotion in the closet with her and began to drink it.
“I drank the lotion, the body oil,” she recalled, “…because I was feeling hungry and very thirsty.”
When security forces arrived, Cheroitich did not believe that they were really rescuers. Therefore, they went to get one of her teachers to confirm that it was safe to come out.
As previously reported, on Thursday, over 140 students at Garissa University were shot dead after members of the Islamic group Al-Shabaab carried out a calculated attack that mainly targeted Christians.
“We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman Al-Shabaab, announced. “There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building. We are also holding many Christians alive.”
“They asked for Muslims, and then told them to step aside,” a survivor also confirmed to the BBC. “And then to confirm whether it was true they were Muslims, they were asked some questions from the Quran.”
“If answered correctly, you are put aside. If you answer wrongly, you are shot on the spot,” they continued.
The four gunmen were later killed by security forces, but Al-Shabaab has threatened more attacks, declaring that “Kenyan cities will run red with blood.”
“For as long as your government persists in its path of oppression, implements repressive policies and continues with the systematic persecution against innocent Muslims, our attacks will also continue,” the group said in a statement on Saturday. “No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your cities.”
Al-Shabaab, being translated, means “The Youth.” It states that its goal is to wage war against the “enemies of Islam” and is recognized by the United States and several other countries as a terrorist organization. The group is believed to have been formed in 2006 and is affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic Courts Union.
In February, Al-Shabaab released an online video where it urged attacks on three specific international malls: the Oxford Street shopping strip in London, England, the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Security measures tightened following word of the threats against the U.S. mall.