From ANN, April 8, 2015:   When a terrorist group shot large numbers of students and others on the campus of Garissa University in Kenya last Thursday (April 2), at least 10 of the 147 killed were Adventists. The al-Shabab extremist group targeted Christian students, according to reports in the international news media.

Among the dead was Eric Nyumbuto, the leader of the local Adventist congregation on campus. Stanley Rotich, a member of the Garissa Adventist Church, reported he was in a nearby building when he heard the gunshots, which prompted him to call Nyumbuto. The conversation abruptly ended when the phone was disconnected. He later learned of his friends’ death.

Over the course of the attack, 500 students managed to escape, and several were left severely injured. One of the first policemen to respond to the attack was Philmon Okal, the Sabbath School superintendent for the local Adventist Church in Garissa. “Words can’t describe how horrific this event was to experience. But this attack reminds me that the second coming of Jesus is very near,” Okal said. “We must continue to look for that day when violence, death and destruction will be no more.”

Several people have already been arrested in connection with the attack and the Kenyan government has promised to bring swift justice to all those involved. This is the deadliest attack in Kenya in almost two decades. The al-Shabab is the same group that committed the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013.

Adventists around the world are mourning the deaths of the students killed last week. Members from the Garissa congregation told ANN, “We are heartbroken by this senseless loss and solicit your prayers for all of the victims of this terrible tragedy.”

Garissa University opened in 2011 and is the first and only public university in a northern region of Kenya which is a poverty-stricken desert. The education that it provides is often a turning point in the lives of the young adults who attend, reported The Washington Post.

There were 824,185 members of the Adventist denomination in Kenya at the end of last year. When children too young to be baptized and non-members who attend church regularly are included, it is estimated that there are nearly 2 million Adventist adherents in the nation out of total population of 47 million. There are nearly 9,000 Adventist congregations.

The Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.