News / Africa

At Least 39 Killed in Nairobi Mall Attack

Police officer tries to secure area inside Westgate Shopping Centre after gunmen went on a shooting spree, Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
Police officer tries to secure area inside Westgate Shopping Centre after gunmen went on a shooting spree, Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Kenya's president says at least 39 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded following an attack by heavily-armed gunmen in an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi.
 
Survivors say gunmen fired indiscriminately at crowds of shoppers and threw grenades as they moved into the Westgate Mall, a popular gathering place for shopping and dining in the capital.

Injured woman is helped out of Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on shooting and grenade-throwing spree, Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.Injured woman is helped out of Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on shooting and grenade-throwing spree, Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.
x
Injured woman is helped out of Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on shooting and grenade-throwing spree, Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.
Injured woman is helped out of Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on shooting and grenade-throwing spree, Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.
Authorities were still working early Sunday to apprehend gunmen, and that security forces have surrounded the attackers who have been holed up inside the 5-story structure since early Saturday and are believed to hold hostages.

While dozens of people have been rescued and police and security forces have said that they have regained control of the mall,  rescue workers have said some shoppers are still holed up inside.

The fate of the attackers is unclear.

Militant group al-Shabab is claiming responsibility for the attack, in which some children were injured.
 
The Somalia-based armed extremists claimed in messages posted on Twitter that its "mujahideen" carried out the assault in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia. The extremist group also said it had warned that Kenya's military presence in Somalia would bring "severe consequences," and that bloodshed at the mall is only a "very tiny fraction" of the violence that has been inflicted on Muslims in their own country.

In an audio message posted on a pro-al-Shabab website, the group urged Kenyan citizens to pressure their government to remove its forces from Somalia if they want to see an end to this sort of attack.
 
Kenyatta address
 
Seeking to reassure the nation, President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke just hours after the morning attack, condemning what he called the cowardly act and praising Kenyans for their solidarity in the face of the terrorist threat.

Sending condolences to those who lost family members and wishing the injured a quick recovery, he said that security forces are working to secure the mall and save lives.

“Our security forces are conducting a multi-agency response to this attack as we speak, and we are in the process of neutralizing the attackers and securing the mall," he said. “It is a very delicate operation as our top priority remains to safeguard the lives of innocent people held up in this unfortunate incident.”

The president also vowed to capture and prosecute the perpetrators, insisting his government stands ready to defend the country from within and abroad. Kenyan forces entered Somalia two years ago after accusing al-Shabab of a series of kidnappings and attacks in Kenya.
 
"Terrorism in and of itself is the philosophy of cowards," he said. "The way we lead our lives in freedom, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over those who wish us ill."

Security response
 
Addressing reporters in Nairobi, Interior Ministry Secretary Mutea Iringo said security forces gained access to the mall several hours after the attack began late Saturday morning.
 
He asked for the public to give security forces the space required to conduct a thorough investigation.
 
“We request the members of public to keep off the scene at the moment, to enable the police to deal with the situation without any hindrance," he said. "I wish once again to reassure Kenyans the government will not relent on the war against armed criminals.”
 
The mall was packed with hundreds of shoppers when the attack began, and many fled in the first moments after police moved in. Others were pinned down by gunfire and were unable to leave the mall for hours.
 
Some officials said they believe the attackers may be hiding inside the mall, but others expressed concern that some of the 10 or more gunmen who staged the assault escaped by blending into the masses of people dashing out of the building, the first wave of whom were not screened by police before leaving the area.
 
Hezron Karanja, a father of two who was trapped inside the mall for more than three hours, said he heard the attackers speaking in a language he did not understand.
 
“We have gone to do our banking inside Nakumatt hall, and then all of a sudden we heard gunshots, and all of us had to lie down," he said. "That was around between 12:30 and up to now. We have been holed [up] inside there and hearing certain language that we couldn’t understand, [from] people who were giving commands and orders.”
 
Swahili and English are Kenya's official languages, but many people also speak other indigenous languages and dialects.
 
Armed robberies common
 
The attack shocked people throughout Nairobi and prompted many shopping centers in other parts of the country to close early Saturday as a precaution.
 
Armed robberies are common in the capital, but the city has also faced a series of grenade attacks since its troops crossed into Somalia to fight the militant group al-Shabab in 2011.
 
The Westgate Mall has been identified as one the key places gunmen or terrorist groups could target since the mall is frequented by Westerners.

Canada and France each say two of their own citizens were killed in the attack, and U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there are reports of Americans injured in the attack, but no further details were immediately available. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack and said the United States has offered Kenya's government its full support to help bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

Harf condemned what she called a "senseless act of violence."
 
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm about the attack and spoke to the Kenyan president about it.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mysterion from: MilkyWay
September 21, 2013 6:39 PM


They call them extremist, fundamentalist, insurgent, millitants, rebels, armed militia, Islamists in fact the only thing are, in totality, is Muslim.

You insult them if you say they do not represent Muslims or Islam. They know they are Muslims on their mission of holy jihad, I know it, everyone who has done a little research knows it - so please do not play the politically correct liberalist game of saying what they are NOT.

These people want a Sharia nation, they want a Sharia global caliphate. The way they go about it is to terrorize, kill, massacre, and on the one hand. Then on the other hand they start their 'presence' or product placement of mosques, Islamic Cultural Centres, wearing Islamic garb, influencing gullible politicians, getting into education and local government, and all the time it's drip, drip, drip until what seemed impossible 20 years ago is now the norm - plus your government and European law makers will insist that there is law to protect everything they do.And even legislation to prevent criticism and exposure of the very insidious threat they are to every nation on the planet.

It also helps when the Brother-in-Chief of the arguably greatest power on earth sides with their religion and applauds the Muslim Brotherhood and funds them - despite the MB hatred for all things Western and especially Israeli. What better sponsor do you need. In fact wait for his condemnation of Muslim atrocities - get some crackers, chips and lot's to drink whilst you wait............

We have ourselves and our leaders to blame. Before you condemn these Muslim murderers ask yourself what you believe in enough to die for??.......

It is just a matter of time before the UK gets this treatment, Oh, and America, and Europe. It's not if, but when. It's totally about logistics and timing.

In Response

by: Samir from: Nairobi
September 22, 2013 4:42 AM
I think you are defeated person, who dont know about Islam and Muslims, I am muslim person and Islam not accepting murder killing and terrorism, plz learn Islam and you will get the right path, lastly my deepest condolences to the victims of west gate mall.


by: Mary Kay from: D.C.
September 21, 2013 5:06 PM
Just like VOA and the mainline state-run media fail/refuse to mention the FACT that the Navy Yard shooter was on TRAZADONE, because they are in bed with the pharmaceutical companies for BIG$$$, will we learn the truth of this shooting, or will it be another dog&pony show??


by: AAR from: Global
September 21, 2013 4:17 PM
World citizens....better hunker down for a while as we are in for a rough ride! Libya, Mali, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Chechnya, West China, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Phillipines, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bangladesh, Lebanon......UK USA and France should brace for some Islamist attacks......War has arrived....losing is not an option against this sort of fanaticism.......


by: Ricky from: Philippines
September 21, 2013 1:57 PM
I pray that no more innocent civilians be harmed and that the Kenyan Gov't would be able to resolve this as soon as possible.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid