As students arrived in the early morning, it seemed like another ordinary school day. With shots beginning to fire around 7:00 a.m., students and teachers would quickly face one of the deadliest attacks on Kenyan soil.
Months have passed since gunmen from the jihadist group, al-Shabaab, stormed Kenya’s Garissa University college. The attack killed 147 people and injured more than 80.
The terrorists also took 700 students hostage during the siege, dividing Christians and Muslims. Four of the attackers were killed that day and five men were later arrested in connection with the attack.
A Survivor Speaks
Nineteen-year-old Cynthia Cheroitich attended Garissa University and tells a survival story that has gone viral around the world. After travelling for six hours by bus to meet CBN News’ Angela Zatopek, she was ready to speak about what happened that day.
“The men were dividing the Muslims and non-Muslims by making us recite the Koran,” Cheroitich told Zatopek.
As terror swept the University halls, the four gunmen began shooting students who couldn’t recite the Koran. Cheroitich ran to her room to alert her roommates and the girls hid under their beds.
“The men were yelling that the women were safe and they could come out. Everyone was confused because the women were then coming out and realized they lied…they just started shooting,” Cheroitich said.
Realizing the women weren’t safe, Cheroitch climbed in a small cupboard above her bed, but she accidently left her purse on the floor.
The men entered her dorm room and found her two roommates under their beds. When they saw the purse on the floor, they began asking where the third roommate was hiding. Cheroitich’s roommates did not reveal her hiding place and tragically are among the 147 who lost their lives that day.
Miracle and Forgiveness
Cheroitich covered her head with bags and papers, praying for a miracle from God.
“I was praying to God, ‘make them to be blind so they cannot see me,'” she said, remembering when one of the attackers opened the cabinet where she was hiding. “They could not see me when he opened the cupboard even though I had the bags on my head.”
She hid for three days and was forced to drink body lotion. Even so, she still suffered from severe dehydration.
Cheroitich remembered the friends and loved ones she lost that day and then Zatopek asked her a final question: “If you could say one thing to the men of al-Shabaab who did this to your friends that day, what would you say?”
“I would have to forgive them, because the Bible says forgive your enemies because they do not know what they are doing,” Cheroitich replied.
(Article fro CBN News by Angela Zatopek at http://www.cbn.com)