A number of students who were killed by al-Shabaab in last Thursday's massacre in Kenya were reportedly either praying or asking their families for prayers before being mercilessly murdered because of their Christian faith, family members have said.
As families descend upon the Chiromo Mortuary in Nairobi to identify the remains of their cherished college students, who were heinously gunned down by militants at Garissa University College last week, many have recounted the last conversations they had with their deceased loved ones, and one woman even described the terrifying mutilation she saw upon verifying the body of her nephew.
The father of Elizabeth Namarome Musinai, a 20-year-old Christian student, told Yahoo News that his daughter had called the family right as al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked terror organization in Somalia, had raided the campus in the early morning hours.
"'There are gunshots everywhere!,'" Elizabeth was quoted as telling her family on the phone. "'Tell mum to pray for me. I don't know if I will survive.'"
Elizabeth's father, Fred Kaskon Musinai, further explained that his daughter was likely taken hostage, as the family received phone calls from a militant demanding that they contact Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta within 2 minutes and tell him to remove Kenyan troops from Somalia, where they are part of the AMISOM coalition fight against al-Shabaab.
After giving the family 2 minutes to contact the president, the militant called back again and was told that the family could not reach Kenyatta. The militant then told the father, "I am going to kill your daughter." The statement was followed by three gunshots and the phone went dead.
The father called back and the militant told him: "She is now with her God."
The brother of a 21-year-old student named Ayub Nujau Kimotho told the Daily Nation that his brother is a praying man and was in the middle of a morning prayer session with his friends when the massacre began.
"He is a prayerful man and had left his room with one of his roommates to go for morning prayers," Kimotho's brother, Daniel Chege, explained.
Chege then said that his brother and friends were driven out of their prayer room as they heard gunshots and went into hiding. It was then when Kimotho started texting his brother about the chaos that was going down on campus.
Chege recalls his brother's last text message to him stating: "At this point, we leave everything to God." Chege is still not certain if his brother is alive or dead.
"I asked him if he was safe and he affirmed that he was but did not tell me where he was hiding," Chege explained. "I tried calling him when he failed to reply to my texts, but his phone just kept ringing. It was at that point when I knew things were no longer right."
Milcah Ruto, who was waiting to identify the remains of her daughter, Judy Chepkemboi, told Capital News that Judy had called her when the attack occurred and asked her mother to pray for her safety as she hid underneath a bed.
"My daughter was able to call me on that fateful day and stated that they had been attacked by the al-Shabaab," Ruto said.
"'I am under the bed and I need your prayers since we are in danger,'" the mother recalls her daughter saying.
"That was the last conversation I had with her. After that, one of our boys who teaches at the Garissa high school took the initiative to look for his cousin but was unsuccessful."
Mary Oloo, the aunt of 19-year-old student Peter Odhiambo, told the Guardian that upon identifying her nephew, who she refers to as her own son, she was horrified by the mutilated condition of his corpse.
"All my son's teeth are missing. His eyes are gouged out," she described.
"Where did they take his eyes?" she wondered.
She also explained that her whole family was counting on her nephew to get a college education that would help him get a good job and would help enable the family leave Kenya one day.
"This boy who we will soon bury, this boy was going to help us board a plane one day," Oloo stated. "I really looked forward to his graduation. Is this the graduation we were to come to?"