NAIROBI’S WESTGATE MALL COMES UNDER ATTACK
(Posted 21st September 2013, 14.15hrs)
News have been emerging from Nairobi that gunfire has been reported from the West Gate Mall, one of Nairobi’s largest and a major police and security operation is now underway and have confirmed that a hostage situation exists with possibly significant numbers of mall visitors trapped inside. All major TV and radio networks are on site but security organs, in fact Kenya’s Inspector General of Police is on site himself, have directed all networks to cease live transmissions which could aid those who perpetrated the attack and reveal details of the police operation now underway. The general public has also been urged to refrain from posting Twitter or Facebook pictures but that appeal seems to have fallen on deaf ears as more and more such information is now available on the net.
Some reports speak of as many as 10 attackers but the motive remains in the dark, uncertain if it was a plain robbery attempt gone wrong or if other motives are behind the attack. There are indications that foreign security specialists are aiding the Kenyan police and special forces and they are now having airborne surveillance underway with at least one helicopter circling overhead.
Emergency services led by the Kenya Red Cross are on site too but in the absence of more detailed information it is impossible to say with any certainty if any casualties have already been brought out to be treated or if the pursuit of the gun men is still underway, as several additional gun shots were heard just moments ago from both inside and outside the mall. Vehicles of the fire brigade and other mobile assets have arrived and are standing by for deployment.
The Mall, one of Nairobi’s most popular with a range of restaurants, major supermarkets, cafes and movie theatres attracts thousands of shoppers especially on weekends.
Police outside have also pushed the crowds of spectators outside back to establish a wider perimeter, to ensure the safety of the general public since shots have periodically emerged from the building.
Embassies in Nairobi have urged their citizens to avoid the wider neighbourhood of the mall and the Red Cross has already made a public appeal for donations of blood to boost medical capabilities when shooting victims eventually reach the hospitals, all of which have been put on high alert to prepare for incoming emergency treatment.
The situation currently has been reported as fluid and Kenya’s main TV stations are now in breaking news mode, reporting from their studios and relying on phone in reports by their field staff.
Update 1 15.20 hrs)
TV pictures from the vicinity of the mall are now showing significant numbers of people from inside the mall coming out and being guided to safety by security personnel. Live interviews with shoppers who had escaped earlier are now starting to circulate on Kenya’s TV stations which continue NOT to show any direct footage from the building or the cordon of security personnel.
Update 2 15.50 hrs)
From reports just coming in up to 19 casualties have so far been raced to the major hospitals where surgeons were recalled on duty to be ready for treatment of the wounded from the West Gate attack. Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo continues to tweet periodically as to other government organs, urging calm.
Once again everybody stay away from Westgate. We are rescuing the shoppers. Police have taken control. Exchange of gun shots. Be calm.
Update 3 16.35 hrs)
Information now obtained speaks of the incident starting at 11 am, the height of the morning shopping hours. Nairobi media source says up to now 11 dead confirmed and scores more injured.
Update 4 23.00 hrs)
Figures are beginning to emerge now that at least 39 innocent people have been killed and over 150 injured though that number can still change as more details begin to emerge and casualty figures from all of Nairobi’s leading hospitals are being reconciled.
What is also emerging is that Al Shabab, a Somalia based Islamic terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack, which by the look of it and going by tweets received from official Kenyan government sources, now appears to be of a terrorist nature.
This in fact cannot be a coincidence that Kenyan armed forces, in hot pursuit of terrorists repeatedly violating the borders of Kenya while operating out of their hiding places in Somalia, have entered that country on the 21st September 2012, giving Al Shabab a landmark date to hit back.
In the past known for rhetoric rather than action, apart from some grenade attacks, this will be Al Shabab’s first main successful terror attack on Kenya, though they have also vowed to hit back at other countries with troops in Somalia like Uganda and Burundi, where within hours of the Nairobi attack security precautions across the capital cities were markedly cranked up to maximum security levels.
In a related report was it learned that another major mall in Nairobi, the Village Market, had on receiving the information from Westgate, voluntarily shut down operations.
Across Kenya are prayers now held by ordinary citizens, mourning this cowardly attack on their fellow citizens and the loss of innocent life and the injuries to many, who were targetted by the terrorists for being non Muslim, and going by some reports, for their ethnicity to make a maximum impact through targetted shootings.
My colleagues and I from eTN deeply regret this incident and express our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to the people of Kenya – our all prayers are with you in this hour of need and sorrow.
Terrorist forceful entered Westgate. They have killed 39 innocent people. President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyatta: I have personally lost family members in the Westgate attack. I commend those who voluntereed by giving first aid.
Kenyatta: We have overcome terrorists before and defeated within & outside our borders. We will defeat them again #WestgateAttack
President Kenyatta says 39 people killed, 150 others injured in #WestgateAttack