Attackers storm Nairobi mall, killing at least 30

Leave a comment
World news
An aerial of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

An aerial of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Kenyan parliamentarian building, Nairobi

English: Kenyan parliamentarian building, Nairobi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire at a mall Saturday, killing at least 20 people. Witnesses say the attackers targeted non-Muslims.

NAIROBI — Gunmen stormed a popular high-end shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Saturday afternoon, lobbing grenades and firing weapons in an attack that left at least 30 people dead, dozens injured and scores of shoppers and store employees trapped.

On Saturday night, the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militia al-Shabab appeared to claim responsibility for the assault, saying it was in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to fight in neighboring Somalia, where it remains a key military actor. In a tweet from the group’s official Twitter handle, @HSM_Press, the militia said that it “has on numerous occasions warned the #Kenyan government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia would have severe consequences.”

“The Kenyan government, however, turned a deaf ear to our repeated warnings and continued to massacre innocent Muslims in Somalia,” it said in another tweet.

The militia said that its “Mujahideen” had entered the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall about noon and that they were “still inside the mall, fighting” Kenyans on “their own turf.” In another tweet, the militia said that “what Kenyans are witnessing at #Westgate is retributive justice for crimes committed by their military.”

Al-Shabab has staged numerous smaller attacks around Kenya since the Nairobi government sent troops to Somalia in October 2011 to fight the militia.

The militia also orchestrated the twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda, during the World Cup in July 2010, killing more than 70 people. That attack, the militia said, was in retaliation for Ugandan soldiers taking part in an African force sent to protect Somalia’s government.

The scene at the mall Saturday afternoon was chaotic.

“We have taken so many to the hospital,” said Zulekha Khalid, a Kenyan Red Cross worker taking cover behind a police truck as a barrage of bullets was fired from the direction of the mall. The Red Cross estimated that, in addition to the 30 dead, more than 50 people were injured in the attack. Khalid said the casualty figures were expected to rise.

Police had earlier characterized the assault, one of the most brazen here in recent memory, as a robbery gone wrong. But senior Kenyan officials, including officials at the East African nation’s Interior Ministry, later said it was likely a terrorist attack. Some witnesses and security officials said the assailants numbered no more than five, while others said there were as many 10 or 15. Some witnesses said one was a woman.

One injured victim said the attackers had ordered Muslims to leave the premises, in an apparent attempt to target non-Muslims. The victim, an American, told this to a friend, who recounted it to a Washington Post reporter. Other witnesses gave similar accounts to other news organizations.

By early evening, the attackers were holed up on an upper floor of the mall, holding hostages, according to police officials and security officers at the scene. Kenyan military and police units had entered the building and were seeking to capture or kill the gang. Scores of people remained inside, huddling in stores, banks, even closets, praying the attackers would not find them. Outside, their relatives frantically sent them text messages, comforting them as best as they could.

Earlier, many of those who had filtered out with the help of security personnel were in tears, their faces revealing the anguish of their ordeal. Some collapsed on the asphalt, while others had to be carried out on stretchers, covered in blood from bullet wounds. Ambulances waited outside to ferry the wounded to hospitals around Nairobi.

Outside the mall entrance, two corpses lay on the ground, next to cars peppered with bullet holes. More bodies lay inside the mall, according to wire service photos.

Matthew Den Dulk said his wife was hiding in one of the banks in the mall.

“My wife told me there’s a large group of people armed to the teeth with grenades and AK-47s,” Den Dulk said.

Annamaria Watrin, an American aid worker from Minnesota, said a friend and his teenage daughter had gone to the mall for a birthday party. “As they went to park their car, she saw five gunmen pop out. They shot her dad. He died,” Watrin said. The girl was injured.

At social gatherings, many middle-class Kenyans and expatriates have long voiced concern about a possible attack on Westgate and other upscale shopping centers and restaurants in Nairobi. Guards at the malls check vehicles for explosives and use hand-held metal scans on shoppers, but they are mostly unarmed, incapable of responding to a heavily armed attack.

Posted by

I'am college graduate and father of three daughters; Jasmine Sherry 17, Rean 16, and Dana 14. Most of my employment years i spent in the restaurant management field. I worked for financial institutions as well at the same time in marketing and finance. My favorite job of all times is working for Taste Freeze as a fry and milk shake attendant. It was the atmosphere that i dig the best. People around me effect everything in my life, not the position. By the way i was 17 years of age then. Here and there i was involved in local politics, like the high school shut down because of a protest or a rally, and in college i got in trouble for bringing beer to the football game. I was a student Government and suppose to behave like a student Senator. I was in the spot lite as i excused myself, it was a brush and let go. I like student clubs, group, well we get to raise hell together after something like a project or a meeting. AISEC was my favorite. The international Association of Students In Business and Economics, it sound different in french. I went to grad School because my sisters drove me to it, one with a Master and the other beyond Grad School, and my employer paid for it, i ended up with an MBA in Marketing Management. I went on to work for both the public and the private Sector as a Marketing Coordinator representing the JTPA to everyone in seven Southeast Los Angeles County Cities. Press releases, and cities meeting were the top priorities of my work load agenda. We were funded by the State through the Federal act of Job Training Partnership Act, therefore we had to cater to the local politicians such as assemblymen, congressmen, and senators too, like what her name, Diane Feinstein and Miss Boxer. Funny I learn how to be real young, i mean very young, well extremely young as all those who like to post their high school photo for the public to recognize them, as local public officials told me to do so because that's how most people knew them. i like water sports, or hobbies like fishing, sailing, snorkeling, and just plain sit on a sandy beach, read, and dip in that water when i feel like it. Listen to music and enjoy people watching as well. It is amazing how much you can learn from watching others. That's what we were brought up doing anyway. Now i spent most of my times developing websites , writing, scouting for high quality contents and show time images, as i post on my digital publications. I consider myself lucky because i had great parents who devoted their time to raise me and looked after me to have education. i hope to continue making a difference in others for as much as i can, and as little as they comprehend and retain from any of my publications contents. I feel it is part of our life journey to contribute positive anything to everything around us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s