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Amnesty International condemns Westgate attack

24 September 2013, 12:00

Nairobi - Al-Shabaab’s blatant disregard for life in its attack on the Westgate shopping mall on Saturday is a despicable affront to basic human rights, Amnesty International said.

“Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the people of Kenya in the wake of these callous and despicable attacks. This despicable tragedy touched on people not only in Kenya but much further afield – and the international community is in solidarity in the wake of the attack,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of the organization.

“Our thoughts and sympathy go out to all those affected by this violence. We welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to account. We urge the Kenyan authorities to ensure that the investigations are prompt, thorough, independent and impartial. Any suspects arrested should be brought to trial in line with international standards,” Shetty added.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, as of Tuesday, about 62 people had died and at least 175 had been injured after a group of 10 or more armed fighters stormed Westgate shopping mall on Saturday.

Among those reportedly killed was the renowned Ghanaian poet and former diplomat, Dr Kofi Awoonor.  Amnesty International had campaigned on the poet’s politically motivated trial in the mid-1970s.

Many foreign nationals also died in the attack at the mall that is frequented by the elite of Kenyan society as well as many internationals in the country.

The Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, denouncing the Kenyan armed forces’ military intervention against the group within Somalia.

The human rights group pledged its commitment to Kenya despite the human rights challenges.

“Amnesty International has worked on the human rights situation in Kenya for more than four decades and has an active national Section there. The organization is also due to open a regional office in Nairobi in the coming months,” Shetty said.

Al-Shabaab seeks to impose sharia law within Somalia and remains engaged in armed conflict in central and southern Somalia with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali forces.

Al-Shabaab has in the past expressed its intent to carry out reprisal attacks in Kenya. Attacks using hand-grenades and other explosives have been carried out on Kenyan territory, often thought to be attacks by Al-Shabaab and its sympathisers, but in recent years there has been nothing of the scale of Saturday’s attack.

- CAJ News



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