Kenya Garissa attack by al-Shabaab
Women fall in the dust after a policemen stops a crowd running towards bodies of suspected Garissa University College attackers in a school compound in Garissa Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Kenyan security forces have paraded the decaying corpses of four attackers killed during the Garissa University siege through the streets under the pretext of identifying the militants with the help of locals.

Hundreds of people including scores of children thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of the bodies of the Somalia-based al-Shabaab Islamists. The naked bodies were placed on the back of a pick-up truck and driven through the main streets of Garissa town.

"The intention was not a parade, but rather for public identification so that if anyone can recognise them whether they are a relative or someone who knows them. Too many people turned out, so we had to return," local police official Benjamin Ong'ombe said.

The truck had moved at least half a kilometre from the hospital before returning to the place where the bodies were kept as the security forces could not handle the crowd. The people were undeterred by the foul stench emanating from the charred and bloated bodies.

"We just thought we needed the public to see the bodies so that they could help in identifying them, but that turned out to be impossible after a huge number of people turned up for the viewing," added the police officer.

Several people attempted to chase the speeding vehicle and took photographs of the decomposing bodies.

Residents in the terror-stricken town have expressed fears that the incident could infuriate the Islamist group to launch more attacks at a time when the town is gradually returning to normalcy.