Four men charged with helping al-Qaida-linked militants launch a murderous attack on a Kenyan shopping mall appeared in court on Wednesday at the start of their trial.
Mohamed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar, Hussein Hassan, and Adan Mohamed Ibrahim are accused of giving support and shelter to gunmen who killed at least 67 people during the assault on Nairobi's Westgate complex that started on Sept. 21.
Prosecutors say the four committed a “terrorist act” under Kenya's anti-terrorism laws and used false documents. The men deny all the charges.
Westgate guard Stephen Juma told the court he saw three gunmen jump out of white car that pulled up outside the mall. One, he said, immediately shot dead a shopper.
“I couldn't recognize them since they had covered their heads and faces with black headscarves,” said Juma, who had worked there for five years.
Kenyan police and Western experts who joined the investigation said four gunmen carried out the attack, which struck at the heart of east Africa's biggest economy. They say all the gunmen died in the attack.
The assault was claimed by the Somali Islamist rebel group al-Shababand highlighted the militants' reach beyond Somalia's porous borders.
Islamist Militants Attack Nairobi Mall
Smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25 2013.
Catholic nuns pray near the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
Fresh graves of Westgate Mall shooting victims in a cemetery in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
Kenyan security forces stand on the top floor of a building facing the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
Mary Italo, center, grieves with other relatives for her son Thomas Abayo Italo, 33, who was killed in the Westgate Mall attack, as they wait to receive his body at the mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2013.
Kenya Defense Forces soldiers take their position at the Westgate Mall, on the fourth day since militants stormed into the mall, in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013.
Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
Paramedics run outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi after heavy shooting, Sept. 23, 2013.
People donate blood for people injured in the attack at the Westgate Mall, at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
Stephen, center, who lost his father in Saturday's attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is comforted by relatives as he waits for the post mortem exam at the city morgue, Sept. 23, 2013.
Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen at 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.