Following a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping centre  this weekend, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said the country is united and strong in adversity, saying ‘Terrorism is a philosophy of cowards”.

While Kenyan troops backed by Israeli and FBI agents on Sunday battled to end a siege on Westgate Mall, the Kenyan Red Cross confirmed Sunday evening that 68 people are dead after the bodies of nine hostages were recovered on Sunday. Around 175  were wounded and 1000 rescued from the melee on Saturday.

Yet since the Westgate Mall was targeted by terrorists, the caring character of Kenyans emerged. The outpouring of support and condolences across the Internet and social networks was instant. Twitter and Facebook weer flooded as both Kenyans on the ground and the diaspora reacted with disgust and horror at the senseless and vicious attack, vowing remain united as a people.

As one Kenyan living in California so eloquently put it on Facebook: “They cannot and will not win. They shoot – we rise. In the midst of the madness – we find human resilience and the will to carry on. Beyond the anger and frustration lies a calm … we WILL get to it Kenya. As one.”

With victims stretching the capacity of the Kenya Red Cross society, St John Ambulance, Aga Khan Hospital and Avenue Healthcare,volunteers rushed to the site to donate blood, while others served tea and snacks to security agents and journalists camping at the Mall. Some of these volunteers had their relatives and friends trapped in the attack, while others were simply lucky that the attack began after they had left the venue.

A counseling service for those traumatised by the attack has been set up at the Visa Oshwal Centre nearby.

Map

Confirmed victims

  • Ruhila Adatia-Sood, Kenyan radio host
  • Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, 78
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew, Mbugua Mwangi and fiancee Rosemary Wahito
  • Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges, 29
  • Two French nationals
  • One Australian
  • Three Britons
  • One Chinese woman
  • A second Canadian national
  • One Dutch woman, 33
  • One South African national
  • Two Indian nationals

Cecile Ndwiga got out on Sunday morning, saying she had been hiding under a vehicle in the basement car park but could not leave earlier because “the shootout was all over – left, right”.

The authorities have asked journalists to exercise caution when reporting military developments because the gunmen might be monitoring the media. The attack began at about 12:00 local time (09:00 GMT) on Saturday, when the militants entered the Westgate centre, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. A children’s day was being held at the time – children are among those reported killed. Witnesses report seeing many bodies strewn round tables of unfinished fast food – with pop music left playing in the background.

Kenyan soldier inside the Westgate mall (21 September)By Sunday afternoon, the security forces had the attackers pinned down in one corner of the shopping centre, officials said

Soldiers from the Kenya Defense Force carry a wounded colleague out of the Westgate Mall Military and police are out in force at the Westgate centre, trying to capture the gunmen

Local residents watch the siege at Nairobi's Westgate Centre (22 September)Local residents watched from a safe distance as the siege continued for a second day

Funeral for Rehmad Mehbub, 18, killed in Nairobi attack (22 September)

Funerals have already begun taking place for some of the dead – including Rehmad Mehbub, an 18-year-old Muslim killed in crossfire between police and attackers

Blood donors in Nairobi (22 September)

Thousands gave blood at donation centres across Nairobi on Sunday

A British man, who fears for his family members trapped inside, old BBC News about the agonising wait outside.

“They came and said: ‘If you are Muslim, stand up. We’ve come to rescue you’,” said Elijah Lamau.

He said the Muslims left with their hands up, and then the gunmen shot two people. US President Barack Obama called President Kenyatta on Sunday to express condolences and reiterate “US support for Kenya’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice”.

The wife of an American working for the US Agency for International Development was killed, US officials said. Prominent Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor – who was attending a literary festival in Nairobi – also died, as did a Chinese woman.

Security experts are reported to have warned that the Israeli-owned complex was in danger of being subjected to a terror attack. Al-Shabab, which is part of the al-Qaeda network, has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.

This is one of the worst incidents in Kenya since the attack on the US embassy in August 1998.

Fatwa issued against al-Shabab: 

In other news, some 160 Somali religious scholars have issued a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the group had no place in Islam. Correspondents say it is the first time Somali religious leaders have come up with a fatwa against the group, which controls many rural areas. At a conference on the phenomenon of extremism in Mogadishu, the scholars said they condemned al-Shabab’s use of violence.

Al-Shabab, or “The Youth”, is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia. Despite being pushed out of key cities in the past two years, it still remains in control of smaller towns and large swathes of the countryside. The announcement comes as residents of central Somalia say al-Shabab executed a young man in the town of Bula Burte and performed a double amputation on another in front of a crowd of several hundred people.

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Sources:

BBC.co.uk

The Nation – nation.co.ke

Images: AFP

About The Author

Afritorial

Neva is a storyteller and media strategist with a background in PR, film, advertising and digital marketing who is passionate about technology, new media and the endless possibilities of the social and mobile sphere. Read more about her on our 'About Us' page.

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