On October 10, 2017, a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on a van carrying students, staff, and faculty on the campus of the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), in Kenya. Two TUM lecturers died in the attack while the driver and two police officers were injured.
Reports indicate that as many as ten gunmen hiding on the side of the road ambushed the vehicle as it neared the TUM campus. The vehicle was transporting TUM lecturers and students from off-campus residence halls to the university. Police have not yet identified the attackers, but suspect that the attack was likely carried out by al-Shabaab militants. Al-Shabaab has a strong presence in the region and frequently orchestrates similar attacks, including an attack on Garissa University College in April 2015 (see report).
Scholars at Risk condemns this extreme, targeted, violent attack on a higher education community and sends condolences to the victims their families and the entire TUM community. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of the university, including equitable access, academic freedom and free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to State authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.