Standing ovation for our security agents
25 September 2013, 15:04
When darkness befell our capital city, confusion was in the air and people knew not what exactly was happening in the city. Most people thought it was a robbery gone sour while others thought it was more of thugs escaping the police.
However, when the dust settled and it came to be known that militants emanating from the terror group - Al-Shabaab - had attacked the Westgate mall, it finally dawned on us that a terror attack had just been executed. Chaos was all over as survivors scampered for safety but the ones trapped inside could not get out. Panic gripped members of the public in a matter of seconds and all hell broke loose when the Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on civilians.
Gunmen in possession of heavy artillery stormed the Westgate mall and opened fire on innocent civilians killing over 60 and injuring about 200 people. No one had a clue of what their motive was and with that kind of scenario, it was all about saving yourself and ensuring you are not caught in the fire.
Even with the attack taking center stage for the better part of the week, we must applaud the security department for the quick response in calming the situation. As soon as bullets started flying all over the ground floor, some police officers who were in the vicinity opened fire and an exchange ensured causing the terrorists to re-strategise. That in itself distorted their initial plans and made them start planning afresh since some bits of the operation had not been successful.
Police officers continued arriving at the scene of the crime and they took charge of the situation in a swift manner. Some went into the building to try and rescue the victims and casualties while others took positions within the building to try and quell the Al-Shabaab militia. A good number also maintained positions outside to ensure help was being availed to victims, casualties as well as ensuring that the public was at a safe distance.
Exchange of fire grew stronger as the few police officers and civilians who were in possession of firearms advanced towards the terrorists in a bid to tame them. Although things did not materialise as expected, their efforts were commendable as they did manage to contain the situation and evacuate people several hours after the attack had been launched.
Communication was also on unprecedented levels as security agencies from different quarters exchanged intelligence on the whereabouts, positions and possession of the assailants. When the police force and intelligence community could no longer handle the situation, the military was injected in a very smooth manner.
Special Forces, rangers and paramilitary squads were deployed to the area. These are often referred to as the best of the best in the military system. Alongside them were the elite forces of the General Service Unit - Recce squad. The Recce squad is tactically trained in combating hostage situations and their expertise was heavily needed. On combining forces, the various units took charge of the operations and assured Kenyans of a speedy resolve to the whole melee.
Even though the damages were fatal, the work done is highly commendable. Yes, as a country we have lost over 60 civilians, about 6 security agents and numerous injured and hospitalised but our security forces have displayed the valor and gallantry of the Kenyan people and the security agencies.
Recognition of the various heroes and heroines must be commemorated. Not just the security agents but all the people who played a courageous role in the rescue mission.
Terrorists might think that they have fallen us but we will re-emerge strong and more united than ever. The wrath that will befall the perpetrators and their sympathisers will be fully prescribed by the law and for sure it will be merciless.
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