We have come to revenge, gunmen told victims before they opened fire

                We have come to revenge, gunmen told victims before they opened fire PHOTO:STANDARD


In one of the most daring act of public execution, gun-trotting criminals struck at Westgate, Nairobi’s most lavish shopping mall and arbitrarily shot at shoppers before holding others hostage for hours.

On a weekend the populous uptown shopping mall is a beehive of activities with revellers and shoppers thronging in.

The incident happened at around 11am on Saturday and witness accounts pointed to an act of terror.

They described the Saturday attack as brutal, merciless and barbaric as the gun-wielding criminals sprayed bullets on innocent Kenyans at various shopping units within the mall.

At the MP Shah hospital, located a few meters from the mall, Mr Mwema Kyalo, a taxi driver who had dropped six primary school children to attend a birthday party inside the mall, said he saw two middle-aged men alight from a Toyota saloon car at the parking yard and then ordered all who were at the area to lie down.

Kyalo said he then heard them yell: “If you are a Muslim get out first,” as the merciless gang sprayed bullets towards those they suspected were not their sympathisers.

“Those who identified themselves as Muslims were allowed to exit the mall, while the two men shot at everyone. I feigned unconscious pretending I had been shot and lay on the ground still,” said the driver whose lucky escape from the gallows of death was godsend. “One of the gunmen hit me on the neck but I did not move, and he went away after confirming I was dead,” he added.

Kyalo said he saw one of the gun-trotting criminals haul a grenade into the mall before it exploded, killing several and injuring hundreds others as another wielded a sophisticated gun and fired indiscriminately.

Medical staff at the MP Shah hospital were mobilised and volunteers were at hand to help those injured get medical attention.

“We need blood, kindly members of the public proceed down there and help us save the lives of our innocent fellow Kenyans, those with blood group O (negative) should hurry up please,” appealed one of the medical staff at the hospital.

The hospital had received a total of 120 casualties at the facility by the time of going to press. A list at the notice board was conspicuous with names of people with Indian origin, their ages indicated against their names.

Majority of those admitted were aged between 40 and 65. Areas around Westlands are mainly inhabited by Indians who mostly shop at the lavish mall. Dr Mohammed Anwar Khan said three people died at the hospital while most casualties have bullets lodged in their bodies.


He said the hospital was doing everything to save lives after mobilising its emergency staff.

“I have travelled extensively, but have never seen a scene like this, this is horrible, I mean its threatening and terrifying,” said Khan.

He added that majority of the patients had stomach, lower abdomen and chest injuries, with others requiring urgent operations.

Mr John Kiarie, one of the survivors, said he overhead the gang say: “We have come to revenge” before he heard gunshots rent the air.

“They dressed like Muslims and wore Taqiya (cap) and said that they were out to execute a mission before they shot at everyone and injured me on the leg,” he said at the MP Shah hospital.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s advisor on Governance  Sam Ongeri said he was shocked by gunmen’s criminal act on innocent Kenyans.

Prof Ongeri, a medical surgeon, said he could not confirm the magnitude of the casualty but indicated that the government would issue a statement. He drove in amid tight security on tow before he was taken on a tour of the casualty wing.

Former presidential candidate Mohammed Abdiba Dida, who turned up at the hospital with his two wives in response to appeal for blood donation, faulted the government for “forgetting too soon”.

“The problem with Kenyans is that we forget so easily and are all the time unprepared for acts like these ones,” said Mr Dida.

At the nearby Agha Khan Hospital doctors and medical staff did everything to save lives as the management called in staff from their weekend break and leave to attend to the casualties. Security was beefed up along surrounding backside streets, as curious onlookers milled around the Westgate shopping mall.

Families and relatives of the casualties thronged the MP Shah and Aga Khan hospitals with the hope of finding their loved ones alive.

The unity and high level of coordination from Indian families was startling.

Armed with radio communication gadgets they manned the major roads leading to the hospitals to open up traffic for the ambulances ferrying those injured to hospitals. Police dispatched six  helicopters, which kept air surveillance around Westlands estate, as the military joined in the rescue mission of those held hostage in the shopping mall.


By the time of going to Press, a combined contingent of the country’s elite squads including the GSU’s Recce squad, police and the military, were at the scene.

Meanwhile, some of the people The Standard on Sunday talked to recounted the harrowing events. Some declined to identify themselves after being advised not to talk to the press.

Mr Joseph Kamau was going about his duties as usual at the mall when he suddenly heard gunshots inside. “In a panic, we all ran to the filing room on the second floor at the management office, where we hid for the better part of the day. The only contact we had with the outside world was our phones where we found out what was happening through the social media,” he said.

He said they were able to reassure their loved ones of their safety as they were hiding despite the shootout between the gunmen and the police.

Ms Margaret Muthoni recalled seeing her colleague gunned down moments after the gunmen raided the shopping mall.

“I was near the entrance and all of a sudden people burst in to the shopping mall and started firing. I was so confused when I saw three people drop dead. We hid in a shop and have just been rescued by the police,” she said at around 3.30pm when she was rescued.