NAIROBI (Reuters) – Masked gunmen stormed a college campus in northeastern Kenya on Thursday, setting off explosions and exchanging gunfire with security forces for several hours, and could have taken hostages after killing two guards, police and media reports said.

Police who encircled the campus at the Garissa University College were joined by Kenyan soldiers as the standoff continued over several hours, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper and Capital FM radio station reported.

A policewoman at the scene told Reuters two security guards at the campus had been killed and the gunmen were likely to have taken hostages because many students remain trapped inside the campus in the town of Garissa.

“Two guards who were manning the gate at the university have been killed,” she said. “We can hear gunshots from inside the compound but at this point we can’t tell who is shooting at who or what.”

No group has claimed responsibility for the raid yet. Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab has carried out several attacks in Garissa and across Kenya in the past, including the 2013 attack on an upscale shopping mall in the capital Nairobi.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has vowed to punish Kenya for sending troops into Somalia alongside African Union peacekeepers to fight the group.

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