Nairobi Mall Massacre: 68 dead, 175 injured, most hostages rescued

Sep 23, 2013, 12:05 IST | Agencies

Upscale Westgate mall turned into a war zone in Kenya after around 10 gunmen sprayed the area with bullets and grenades killing many; around 1,000 people evacuated as tensed standoff enters third day

Massacre in Nairobi mall: Click to view pictures

The attack has left at least 68 people killed and more than 175 others injured, according to the government, the bloodiest one since the bombings at the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998.

Most of the hostages holed up by gunmen in Nairobi's shopping mall have been rescued, a spokesperson of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said Sunday.

The latest development came more than 30 hours after masked gunman carried out shooting spree in the mall on Saturday morning.

Save our souls: While some petrified people were led to safety, some cowered and hid behind tables to avoid being killed. Pics/AFP

"All efforts are underway to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion," KDF said, adding four KDF personnel sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment.

According to the Kenyan government, there are 10-15 gunmen inside the mall, holding unknown number of hostages, which has made the operation "delicate".

Among the slain foreigners were Two Indians, two French nationals, two Canadians, three Britons, one Chinese and one Ghanaian.

On Saturday, terrorists, using guns and grenades entered the mall and unleashed terror. Pools of blood smeared pristine hallways. Bodies lay strewn across the floor.

By noon Sunday, as Kenyan soldiers warily searched the building -- and as Al-Shabaab, the group claiming responsibility for the massace — the siege was no closer to a resolution.

Officials believe 10 to 15 gunmen are involved and around 30 hostages are yet to be evacuated.

Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia, claimed responsibility, and said it was not backing down.

In a message on its Twitter feed, the group said “all Muslims” were escorted from the mall before the attack.

“When justice is denied, it must be enforced,” it said in a tweet on Sunday. “Kenyans were relatively safe in their cities before they invaded us & killed Muslims #Westgate.”

As the sun rose on Sunday, the standoff between Kenyan forces and the attackers continued. “We want to do everything possible, and the security people are doing everything possible to make sure we lose no more lives,” said State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu, adding, “At least 1,000 people have been evacuated. Our priority is now those that remain inside.”

Israeli special forces also arrived at the scene and working with their Kenyan counterparts in the crisis.

Recounting the horror
Surajit Borkakyoty said it was total chaos as gunfire came from a higher level floor. He said he and 20 others found themselves in the kitchen of a cafe, and moved fridges and freezers to block the passageways. “It was a small space, people were panicking, children were crying. We were trying to calm people and tell them not to use their phones, or to keep them on silent. All the time we could hear gun fire. It was a war like situation.”

Sudjar Singh, who works in the shopping mall and was there at the time of the attack, said he suffered a near miss when he was targeted by the attackers. “The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. There are definitely many casualties.”

Charles Karani, an IT engineer, said: ‘I hid under a car with my daughters, and I saw the men line up maybe 40 people and ask them who was Muslim, and if they were to prove it by saying the name of the Prophet’s mother. Those who got it wrong were shot.

Worst terror attack in Nairobi
Saturday’s attack on the shopping mall was the deadliest terrorist incident in Kenya since al-Qaeda bombed the US Embassy in Nairobi in August 1998, killing more than 200. On the same day, a bomb exploded at the Embassy in Tanzania.

8-yr-old among 2 Indians dead
Two Indians, including an 8-year-old boy were killed in the attack while four others, including two women and a girl, were injured in the attack and are receiving medical treatment. Those killed were Sridhar Natarajan from Tamil Nadu and eight-year-old Paramshu Jain, the son of Manoj Jain.

Kenyan president’s nephew dead
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta blasted “the despicable perpetrators of this cowardly act”. He said his nation has “overcome” attacks before, refusing to budge from its values or relinquish its security.

And it will do so again, he promised. “We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to,” he said. Kenyatta’s nephew and his fiancee also died in the attack. Kenyatta said, calling his killed relatives “young, lovely people I personally knew and loved.”  

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