At least 70 people have been killed and dozens more injured after militants from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab stormed a university in eastern Kenya.

Four attackers have been killed and around 500 hostages have been rescued from the Garissa University College compound, but the situation remains ongoing.

Witnesses reported seeing five masked gunman storm the university at around 05:30 local time (03:30 GMT). The militants killed two compound security guards at the university gates and were reported to have been firing indiscriminately while inside the compound.

Police officers, who were guarding the students’ hostels, heard the gunshots and engaged the militants in a gun battle. The officers called for reinforcements, but the gunmen gained access to the dormitories, where the students were hiding.

Following a similar procedure to other recent attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked group in the region, the attackers said that they have divided the hostages into Christians and Muslims, and planned to free the Muslims.

Fifteen Muslim hostages have reportedly been freed as shots continue to be exchanged between the gunmen and police officers supported by members of the Kenyan military.

Kenyan authorities have named Mohamed Kuno as the mastermind behind the attack, and offered a KSHS 20 million (£140,000) reward for him. Kuno had been a teacher at an Islamic school in Garissa, but quit in 2007 and joined al-Shabab, where he has become a high-ranking official.

Al-Shabab claims that the college attack is part of its ongoing war with Kenya. Kenyan troops crossed the border into Somalia in 2011 in an attempt to prevent al-Shabab militants moving into Kenyan territories, but the military action had the effect of provoking the militant group into carrying out more attacks within Kenyan borders.

Last week, the Foreign Office updated its travel information for eastern Kenya, including Garissa, and advised against all but essential travel in the area due to a “high threat” from terrorism, including kidnapping, and other violent crimes, such as robberies and carjacking.

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