Sunday, September 22, 2013
A Nation numb with shock
Left a security officer with a gun in his hand rescues a toddler as a terrified woman sticks close. Other photo; The horror of the cooking show that was going on in Westgate which took the brunt of the initial shooting.
The last 24 hours or so will go down in the annals of Kenyan history as a very trying time indeed. In an incident that is still unfolding as I write this, Al Shabbab terrorists have rained down terror at the upmarket Westgate Mall in Westlands Nairobi.
Kenya Defense forces and crack commando units are in the final and most dangerous stage of flashing out the terrorists still holed up in the building with hostages mainly on the third and fourth floors.
Now is not the time to start distributing blame. But when this is over Kenyans must demand the resignations of certain people. Although we cannot change the past or what has happened there is a lot that we can
do about the future and more specifically our safety in future and this needs to start with the said resignations as well as a serious re-examination of how we can realistically go on with our lives in the knowledge that terrorist attacks are bound to happen again in future.
It is still a major puzzle to me why terrorists love to do their thing in Kenya so much. More so because we are not the only African country with troops in Somalia. You will remember that long before the Al Shabab
and even before 9/11 the Al Qaueda came calling in Nairobi and bombed the American embassy in Nairobi.
Interestingly in my raw notes in 2011, I carried a detailed article about the places most vulnerable to a terrorist attack after consultations with an international security expert. A similar report was echoed in the media a few months later, quoting local security experts. This means that we should have had a lot more safety measures on the ground. Especially at shopping malls where the design of the building is such that there is a main entrance right next to a main street. That would include places like Westgate and the Yaya centre.
My appeal to all Kumekuchans is to strongly resist any attempts to turn this tragedy into a discussion about religions. Now is especially a sensitive when emotions are running so high and Kenyans looking for somebody to blame. Clearly part of the Al Shabab strategy for a very long time has been to try and trigger a war between Christians and Muslims in Kenya (remember the attacks on churches in Garissa?) and although so far they have failed big time, they don't seem to stop trying. In the Westgate incident the attackers specifically spared Muslims who were asked to leave when identified. The Al Shabab fanatics then murdered in cold blood young children and toddlers whom they identified as non-Muslims. I do not know any religion in the world that would condone the killing of children and toddlers and so this is certainly NOT an attack on Kenya by Muslims but an attack by brutal, sick criminals masquerading as Muslims.
What seems to have happened
Heavily armed attackers (said to be numbering between 10-18) arrived at Westgate Mall shortly before 1 PM Kenyan time yesterday, lobbied grenades around the entrance and spraying bullets all over the place.
This is how they easily gained entrance into Westgate. Once inside, they then profiled shoppers sparing Muslims and killing non-Muslims.
The very well organized attack saw the gang split into two, one group went in through main entrance while the other went in through the parking bay entrance which leads to the roof.
They took hostages whom they are still holding as they engage Kenyan soldiers in sporadic but fierce gun battles.
There is a lot to suggest that this was a very well coordinated attack that must have been planned for a long time. Like the fact that all CCTV cameras in the building were disabled and power was also switched off.
These are two things you cannot do without extremely detailed knowledge of a building and where the main switches are.