By responding to distress we triumphed
By By UHURU KENYATTA | September 23rd 2013
By UHURU KENYATTA
I thank all of you for staying strong and for being there for each other’s sake as the tragic ordeal at the Westgate Mall enters its second day.
You continue to be heroic in many amazing and heartening ways. As a nation, we speak as one on this.
You can see here former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other national leaders ... in and outside Government.
We are a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. Our diversity is also our strength.
Sadly, the evil and cowardly act of terrorism has claimed 59 lives and injured more than 175 people.
Let us all continue to keep all the affected people in our thoughts and prayers, even as we reach out with a helping hand. I want every bereaved family to know that I mourn very deeply with them.
No one should lose their life so needlessly, so senselessly, and no family should have to receive news that their loved one has been killed by a criminal bunch of cowards.
As your president, as a leader and as a Kenyan, I feel the pain of every life we have lost, and share your grief at our nation’s loss. My nephew and his fiancee are among those who died in this attack.
These are young, lovely people I personally knew and loved. Many of us have lost loved ones. Let us mourn them all as one nation, and keep them always in remembrance and prayer.
To those who have suffered physical and psychological wounds I offer words of comfort and encouragement. Please know that my Government and multitudes of well-wishers are united in one resolve: to see you through this painful and confusing moment. Take heart that you are not alone as you bear your hurt; we are praying for your quick recovery.
Owing to the professional response of the various security agencies at the scene and the selflessness of countless Kenyans, more than 1,000 people were rescued from the Mall and attended to. We continue to rescue more.
This is remarkable and encouraging. I am aware that many have expressed impatience over the pace at which the situation is unfolding. Whilst I empathise with your anxiety at seeing the matter concluded as quickly as possible, I ask for your understanding as well.
There are 10 to 15 armed terrorists inside the building as well as many unarmed, badly shaken, innocent civilians. We have reports of women as well as male attackers. We cannot confirm details on this. Our security analysts are looking at that. Our multi-agency response unit has had to delicately balance the pressure to contain the criminals with the need to keep our people still held in the building safe.
Obviously, the outcome has not been ideal, but I am satisfied that our disciplined forces have responded in as professional and effective manner as the circumstances have allowed.
I also ask Kenyans to remember that these officers are putting their lives on the line for the greater good.
Therefore, give them due consideration and prayer.
The Inspector General of the Police Service, David Kimaiyo, remains in charge of the situation. Teams from the Kenya Defence Forces have supplemented the intervention.
The criminals are now all located in one place within the building. With the professionals on site, I assure Kenyans that we have as good a chance to successfully neutralise the terrorists as we can hope for. Let us allow them space and time to do their best.
I have received calls from world leaders offering their words of comfort and solidarity. I have also received numerous offers of assistance from friendly countries, which are under evaluation.
For the time being, however, this remains an operation of the Kenya security agencies. I thank all our international friends who have reached out to us and stood with us.
The Al-Shabaab terror group have claimed responsibility for this cowardly act of terror on social media. However, investigations are underway to conclusively establish those responsible for this mayhem, so that we can have full accountability. They shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and painfully.
I call on Kenyans to stand courageous and united. Let us not sacrifice our values and dignity to appease cowards. Our victory must be conclusive. Let us defeat them with our unity. By responding quickly and generously to distress calls, we have triumphed.
By standing in long lines all over the city to give blood, donating money through our mobile devices, buying and distributing food, blankets and beverages to the affected, we have ashamed and defeated our attackers.
Let us continue to wage a relentless moral war as our forces conduct the physical battle. We shall triumph.
As I asked you on Sunday, please continue helping, and continue praying.
Thank you. God bless our beloved country.
The writer is the President of the Republic of Kenya.
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