Westgate attack second anniversary marked in low-key events in Nairobi

Kenyans hold peaceful demonstration in Nairobi in commemoration of September 21, 2013 Westgate attack that left over 67 people dead. (Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard)

Nairobi, Kenya: The second anniversary to mark the terror attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi was marked with calls for more vigilance and tolerance.

A group of businessmen and activists in Eastleigh held a street procession and made speeches in commemoration of the attack. The march started from St Teresas area to New Eastleigh primary where speakers called for peace.

The leaders lauded the residents for putting aside their religious differences to champion for peace in Eastleigh, which has been a target for previous terrorists attacks.

Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan said they plan to stage several other campaigns that will ensure peaceful co-existence between Christian and Muslims.

“We will not allow the work of terrorists to create hatred among us. We want to send them a message that Muslims are not a part of their evil agenda,” said Hassan.

The area Chief Jawahir Mohammed said Westgate attack created friction among residents of Eastleigh and the walk was part of healing the nation and creating trust between the two religions.

“It is a beautiful coincidence that we mark this event on a day set aside to mark World peace day. As a leader, when such an attack happens, you are tossed about trying to reassure your people that they can still live and work together,” said Jawahir.

At Westgate Shopping Mall, some staff congregated to honor those who were killed in the attack. Nakumatt staff led the team in marking the day.

"Peace can only be kept by understanding. Happy World International Peace Day," Nakumatt said on their twitter account.

The mall, rebuilt at a cost of Sh2 billion, was reopened by Nairobi governor Evans Kidero in July.

Security was beefed up on various installations in Nairobi and other major towns.

Police spokesman Charles Owino however called on Kenyans to maintain vigilance at all times in the country.

“In as much as we are trying to ensure your safety you must also play your part. Ensure vigilance,” he said.

Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall terror attack saying it was retribution for the incursion of Kenyan troops into Somalia.

At midday on Saturday, September 21, 2013, four gunmen from the Islamist Al-Shabaab militant group stormed the mall, firing at anyone in their path -- killing 70 people and wounding hundreds more.

They said they did it out of revenge for Kenya's military operations in Somalia.

There was poor co-ordination at the site because security officers and soldiers did not know the identity and strength of the attackers. Officials later named two of the attackers as 23-year-old Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, who had spent time in Norway, and Mohammed Abdinur Said — both Somalis. CCTV footage from the mall showed they were armed with AK-47 rifles and grenades.

Four suspects — Hussein Hassan Mustafa, Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar and Adan Mohammed Abdikadir — were later arrested for providing support to the gunmen and their trial is ongoing.