Kenyans as still coming to terms with the brutal attacks on the Westgate shopping Mall as three days of national mourning begins today.
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday confirmed the end of the siege on the mall after Kenyan security forces carried an all out swoop late yesterday evening. An unconfirmed number of people, up to 100 according to some accounts, are still missing, presumed death.
“I report with great sadness that 61 civilians lost their lives. Six security officers also made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the criminals” President Kenyatta said.
He promised that all those involved in the carnage will face the full arm of the law. 11 suspects have been detained and five killed. It is unclear if the 11 detained suspects were all involved in the Westgate attacks or were just accomplices.
In the final hours of the assault on the Mall, the Al-Shabaab militants started a fire and a part of the three story building collapsed. Forensic experts are part of the teams working to recover death bodies and any available evidence from the rubble.
The Standard online in Kenya yesterday reported that Senator Mike Sonko revealed he had given information to security forces three months earlier warning them about impending attacks on targets in the capital Nairobi including the Westgate security Mall. The senator said he had contacts with two women who revealed a gang of militia men had rented rooms in the capital and were planning attacks.
“They mentioned Westgate Mall, Village Market, Parliament and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre as their targets,” claimed Sonko.
Kenyan security has been criticized for not acting on intelligence and their slow reaction to the attacks. It took them four whole days to bring the situation under control. Survivors have been telling harrowing stories of their time in the shopping mall and the savage attacks they suffered in the hands of the militants. They reportedly shot people who could not tell who the mother of Prophet Mohammed was.
Al-Shabaab has been getting increasing violent and desperate after they lost control of the Somali capital Mogadishu in 2001 and were pushed to the South of the country. Saturday’s attack on the shopping mall was another desperate action of a cornered terrorist group they are using to show they are still capable of launching brutal attacks on “soft targets”.
There are now calls to increase the funding and number of UN peace keeping troops fighting against the militants in Somalia.