News / Africa

East Africa Law Society Condemns Kenya ‘Terrorist’ Attack

Civilians who had been hiding inside during the gun battle manage to flee from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
Civilians who had been hiding inside during the gun battle manage to flee from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
Peter Clottey
The president of the East Africa Law Society (ELS) has sharply condemned the attack by gunmen at a mall in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, over the weekend.

“The [ELS] wants to condemn in the strongest terms possible the attacks by this terror group. We see this as a serious attack on human life,” said ELS president James Mwamu. “Human lives have been lost because of mistakes that could have been avoided. This is going to cause a lot of pain to citizens who are going to bear the brunt.”

Mwamu also called on the government to recruit, train and adequately equip anti-terror security agents to deal with the growing threat from regional armed militants, including the Somali-based radical Islamic group, al-Shabab.

“We need to train more anti-terror police, security agents that will quickly deal with this. We must get the latest equipment that can detect [or give] terror alerts, break the terror cells wherever they are. That is the only way the government can combat terrorism,” said Mwamu.

Mwamu’s comments came after gunmen opened fire in a shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi. Survivors said gunmen fired indiscriminately at crowds of shoppers and threw grenades as they moved into the Westgate Mall, a popular, upscale gathering place for shopping and dining.

Mwamu said security agents should have done more to prevent the attack.

“This particular mall has been targeted in the past for attacks. There was a need for the security intelligence to have kept tabs on what has been going on and to deploy very serious security surveillance. We think that security is deteriorating in the country,” said Mwamu. “[It] must be tightened. There must be sufficient protection of the citizens of the republic of Kenya before these fellows do something much worse.”

The US State Department’s deputy spokesperson Marie Harf condemned the attack. She called the attack a “senseless act of violence that has resulted in death and injury for many innocent men, women, and children.”

“Our condolences,” she continued, “go out to the families and friends of all victims.  We have reports of American citizens injured in the attack, and the U.S. Embassy is actively reaching out to provide assistance.”

Mwamu called on the government to urgently implement measures to prevent future attacks.

“You will have imagined if these guys would walk in to a bigger place like Kenyatta International Conference Center where you have about 3,000 working during the day and blow up the whole place. It will be terrible, it will be tragedy,” said Mwamu. “In light of what happened on September 11, you can never take these things for granted anymore.”

Mwamu called on for international cooperation in dealing with terrorism to help ensure stability and peace in Kenya and in the region.

“[Kenyan authorities] should be able to cooperate with countries that have successfully [dealt with] or are trying to deal with issues of terror attacks like the United States, Britain and Israel that have the latest gadgets…and be able to get technical expertise on some of these issues,” said Mwamu.
Clottey interview with James Mwamu, president East Africa Law Society
Clottey interview with James Mwamu, president East Africa Law Societyi
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