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UPDATE: Up to 160 people have been killed in the Kenya university attacks

Attack: Officials say the security operation to free hostages is over
Attack: Officials say the security operation to free hostages is over

As many as 160 people may have died in the Kenyan university Islamic extremist attack, security officials have said.

Officials at the scene of the attack at a college in north east Kenya say the security operation to free hostages is over.

The gunfire has ended, dozens of hostages have been freed, and four of the gunmen have been killed.

Reports suggest the gunmen began separating Muslim hostages and non-Muslim hostages and began an "operation against the infidels",  al-Shabab said on radio. 

One Kenyan police source said there were 147 dead and another police source said 160.

A third source put the death toll at around 80 but said there were so many bodies that he could not do a proper count as night fell with no electrical power to light the scene.

The Kenyan government has named Mohamed Kuno, a high-ranking al-Shabab official, as the mastermind of the attack.

President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a statement extending condolences to the families of victims and saying that he and his government “continue to pray for the quick recovery of the injured, and the safe rescue of those held hostage.”