Westgate mall attack should never happen again
24 September 2013, 11:40
Saturday the 21st of September 2013 will remain a dark day in Kenya’s history as an attack was launched on its citizens in proportions never seen before. Gunmen entered the Westgate shopping mall and began spraying rounds of ammunition on members of the public who had thronged the affluent shopping complex located in the posh area of Westlands, Nairobi.
Since the 1998 August bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, terrorism has always been a threat to our security and more often than not, as a country, Kenya has played lead roles in fighting the vice. However, the now infamous ‘Westgate attack’ has send shivers through Kenya’s spines and it is beyond doubt that the entire nation was shaken by the events that unfolded.
According to credible reports mostly from eyewitnesses who are survivors, gunmen walked into the mall wearing checked Islamic scarves, commonly associated with the late Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader. They were hurling grenades at innocent people and shooting randomly causing panic among the shoppers. Chaos engulfed the mall as everyone scampered for their dear lives not knowing where the bullets were originating from.
The way the attack was orchestrated clearly shows that it was carefully planned by those claiming responsibility. The Al-Qaeda backed Al-Shabaab group has, in recent statements made by its affiliates and sympathisers, claimed responsibility. They have termed the assault as a ‘payback for atrocities committed in Somalia by the Kenya Defense Forces’. It has also emerged that several threats have in the recent past been issued by the militia group who proclaim to Islamic faith but practice extremism as part of their lifestyle.
With numbers of victims soaring higher and higher by the minutes, it is crucial that Kenya as a country should ask itself; how did this come to happen? Having the military unit in Somalia is an enormous security threat to the country and it is without question that the security forces within the country be vigilant 24 hours a day.
As the houses of parliament convene to discuss this heinous attack, it is key that some considerations be adopted and adopted fast. This will aid Kenya in averting a similar strike by the enemy because another strike is imminent and these militia members can be ruthless because they lack a human heart. Among the number of ideas to be shared, the houses should consider enacting laws to have security firms raise the level of training to include self defense mechanisms, use of light weapons against powerful threats and other military-oriented tactics.
The security firm in the building was the first to respond to the gunshots by trying to evacuate people safely. If they were also armed and well trained in combat affairs, they would have mitigated the disaster that has seen more than 60 people lose their lives. Several survivors owe their lives to the security firms’ personnel who courageously took it upon themselves to act in the Kenyan spirit and human heart by evacuating the trapped citizens.
Government needs to see to it that security guards are well trained and allowed to possess light firearms that can be useful when an attack of this nature takes place again. With good discipline and good remuneration, the security guards who are mostly seen as idle labour force and conspirators in huge bank heists can play a leading role in some way with regard to the fight against terrorism.
Commendation is owed to all Kenyans and especially the security agencies in how they responded with might and valor towards the untimely attack. The Red Cross and humanitarian agencies have also been brilliant with hospitals playing a crucial and unmatched role. Efforts all over have been enormous and that has displayed the true Kenyan spirit, “In adversity we will still raise to reclaim our honor and pride.”
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