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Police probing woman who sold car to Westgate attackers

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By Martin Mutua | October 12th 2013

By Martin Mutua

NAIROBI, KENYA: Finally, the owner of the vehicle used to ferry attackers to the Westgate Mall three weeks ago has spoken out.

The woman, whose name we shall not reveal as investigation on the matter is ongoing, was, however, unaware that her car would be used to accomplish the heinous act by the terrorists, who she did not know.

She told detectives investigating the assault that left more than 70 people dead and dozens others injured that she sold the car for Sh320,000 to the terrorists.

Sources said the vehicle, a Mitsubishi saloon car registration KAS 575K, carried four of the attackers and was the first to arrive at the mall. Upon arrival, the attackers jumped out and began firing indiscriminately at people in the parking lot before entering the mall where they continued shooting. In the trunk of the vehicle was a box full of explosives.

DNA analysis

Interestingly, the car had petrol smeared inside by the attackers, who, it is believed, had wanted to cause more damage by detonating the explosives. This did not happen as shoppers failed to come out when the security forces responded.

"If any of them had fired at the car it would have exploded," said a source helping with investigation.

Sources said the car was discovered by the American security team that joined local security officers when the operation was underway.

"With their gadgets they managed to raise the alarm when they passed near the car and ordered everyone to stay back before they opened the trunk, where they found the explosives which they detonated on site," added the sources.

In the car were several SIM cards and some stuff the attackers had been chewing, forensic experts who dusted the vehicles for fingerprints said. Sources said the experts carried out DNA analysis on the stuff, some which had saliva, and gave it to the foreign detectives, who will try to find a match from their lists of wanted terrorists.

According to a statement she recorded with police, the woman says she sold the car to people who said they were Kenyan Somalis.

She said the transaction was carried out on September 6, 2013 at Barclays Bank Queensway branch, where the buyers withdrew money. She was paid in cash.

Paperwork

"They handed the cash to the seller and drove off in the car, promising to carry out the paperwork later," a detective familiar with the case said.

Police are now contemplating returning the car to the woman since there is no other person who has laid claim to the vehicle.

Meanwhile, a medical doctor of Somali descent has declined to pick his car from the mall.

Detectives are now contemplating arresting the doctor for questioning following his (in)action.

According to the investigators, the doctor, who is married with three wives among them a Libyan, is said to have sent two people to pick the car.

The two were detained by police for questioning after it emerged they were not the owners.

"After they were interrogated they disclosed the name of the doctor, who they said was the owner of the car, but over time the police called him to come he has always been giving false promises of showing up and its now over a week," sources said.

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