Kenya university attack death toll rises

At least 14 people are dead after masked gunmen stormed Garissa University College at dawn.

Garissa University College in Kenya. Picture: Google Earth

KENYA - The death toll in an attack by gunmen on a Kenyan university campus near the border with Somalia has risen to 14, a police officer at the scene said on Thursday.

"I have counted 14 bodies of dead people being carried out of the campus by a Red Cross ambulance, and they include two of our officers who were also killed," said the policeman, who was at the university compound in the northeastern town of Garissa.

"We are finding it difficult to access the compound because some of the attackers are on top of a building and are firing at us whenever we try to gain entry."

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

Five masked gunmen stormed the campus at dawn, opening fire and setting off explosives.

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 on 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.

LISTEN: Evacuation at Garissa University College underway

According to police officers, reinforcements were dispatched immediately but Garissa 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.

This was ignored #GarissaAttack pic.twitter.com/53MVHbQub5

Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which has links to Al Qaeda, has carried out several attacks in Garissa and across Kenya in the past.

Grace Kai, a student at Garissa Teachers Training College which neighbours the campus that was attacked, said there had been warnings that an attack could be imminent.

"Some strangers had been spotted in Garissa town and were suspected to be terrorists," she told Reuters.

"Then on Monday our college principal told us ...that strangers had been spotted in our college... On Tuesday we were released to go home, and our college closed, but the campus remained in session, and now they have been attacked."

Al Shabaab, which was responsible for a deadly attack in 2013 on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, has vowed to punish Kenya for sending troops into Somalia alongside African Union peacekeepers to fight the group.