Armed gunmen attack Kenyan university

At least two people are dead after gunfire and explosions at Garissa University College.

Garissa University College in Kenya. Picture: Google Earth.

JOHANNESBURG - The Kenyan military has now started evacuating students and staff from the university in Garissa in the north east of the country after five masked gunmen stormed the building at dawn.

The Kenya Red Cross says at least two people have been killed and 30 others have been hospitalised following this morning's attack.

The masked gunmen stormed the college campus on Thursday, setting off explosions and exchanging gunfire with security forces for several hours, and could have taken hostages after killing two guards, police and media reports said.

Police who encircled the campus were joined by Kenyan soldiers as the standoff continued over several hours, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper and Capital FM radio station reported.

#GarissaAttack According to CEC Health 30 casualties taken to hospital. 4 are very serious. Majority of Casualties have gunshot wounds.

Students were heading for morning prayers when the men struck.

A policewoman at the scene told Reuters two security guards at the campus had been killed and the gunmen were likely to have taken hostages because many students remain trapped inside the campus in the town of Garissa.

"Two guards who were manning the gate at the university have been killed," she said. "We can hear gunshots from inside the compound but at this point we can't tell who is shooting at who or what."

In a statement, Kenya's new police chief, Inspector General Joseph Boinett says gunmen forced their way through university gates by killing the two guards in duty.

The attackers then shot at students heading to morning prayers.

There were police officers stationed inside the university building, and a gun fight ensued.

According to police officers, reinforcements were dispatched immediately but residents are already complaining of a delayed response time.

It's understood police and the army are still battling the gunmen inside the university hostel.

Seven critically injured people have been evacuated.

LISTEN: Evacuation at Garissa University College underway

No group has claimed responsibility for the raid yet.

Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab has carried out several attacks in Garissa and across Kenya in the past, including the 2013 attack on an upscale shopping mall in the capital Nairobi which left almost 70 people dead.

We are saddened & angered by today's terrorist attack @ #Garissa Univ. Our deepest condolences 2 family/friends of victims. #CowardsNeverWin

The Garissa University College is located near the border with Somalia.

Reports are now emerging on social media that authorities and institutions in Kenya were warned about the potential for a terror attack.

Garissa University attack comes when most universities in the kenya were on high terror alert. #GarissaAttacks pic.twitter.com/2i68OT75bw