Burials held amid search for bodies
26 September 2013, 19:26
Nairobi - Families and friends on Thursday buried victims of a four-day
Westgate mall massacre by Al-Shabaab gunmen as international forensic and security experts
scanned the rubble for bodies and clues.
Weeping mourners from multiple religions gathered for the
latest funerals of the 67 victims whose bodies have so far been recovered from
the wreckage of Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall.
Across Kenya, flags flew at half mast for the second of
three days of national mourning.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced an end to the 80-hour
bloodbath late on Tuesday, with the "immense" loss of 61 civilians
and six members of the security forces. Five suspected attackers were also
killed, and 11 detained, officials said.
Police said the death toll was provisional, with the Kenyan
Red Cross reporting 72 people missing.
In one of many funerals, over two thousand mourners turned
out Thursday morning to pay their final respects to Ruhila Adatia, 31, a
popular television and radio personality who was pregnant with her first child,
in a joint ceremony also held for Shairoz Dossa, 44, a mother of three.
Both came from the Ismaili Muslim community.
Shelina Manji, a friend of Adatia, said the last time they
saw each other they promised to talk later.
"We never had that conversation," she told the
somber crowd, some dabbing their eyes as tears welled up.
The front page of The Standard daily
newspaper, simply showed a red rose and the headline, "in honour of our
fallen loved ones".
Thin wisps of grey smoke
Teams of volunteer counsellors and psychologists have set up
several centres, including at the Nairobi City Mortuary, where "anyone
who was affected by the Westgate attack can obtain counselling", they said
in a statement.
Victim had just bought a present for her unborn baby
Fellow radio presenter Kamal Kaur who was with Adatia at a
children's cooking contest on the mall's rooftop parking when the attackers struck,
recounting the horror as the insurgents raked the screaming crowds with bullets
and hurled grenades.
"I had around 30 to 35 kids with me... and when the
blast went off I tried to protect them by ordering them to get down and lie on
the floor... After the blast, and screaming from the kids, the shots started
coming in," Kaur told The Standard.
Kaur, who huddled against a wall as she tried to stem the
pumping blood from the neck of a little boy, said she did not see how Adatia
But she recalled her final words, just minutes before the
"She was telling me how she had bought something for
'my little papa' [her unborn baby], and I was telling her to stop buying too
many things because we will have nothing else to give as a gift when it finally
comes," Kaur added. "Those were the last words I said to her."
As Kenyans mourned, rescuers and investigators continued to
search the damaged Westgate mall complex, a large section of which collapsed
after heavy explosions and a fierce fire.
Thin wisps of grey smoke continued to rise from the
building, apparently from where the back of the building has collapsed, with
tonnes of concrete now smothering where the insurgents are believed to have
made their final stand, alongside possibly multiple hostages.
Message to Westerners
Police have repeatedly called for Kenyans to be patient but
many are growing frustrated, with some taking to social media to demand swift
answers to a raft of questions on what brought part of the building down, the
fate of the missing and the status of the investigation.
Somalia's Al-Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane said the Nairobi
mall carnage was a "message to Westerners" who had "backed
Kenya's invasion [of Somalia] that has spilled the blood of the Muslims for the
interest of their oil companies".
In an audio message posted on their website, Godane
threatened "more bloodshed" unless Kenya withdrew its troops.
Kenya invaded southern Somalia to attack Shebab bases two
years ago, and later joined the 17,700-strong African Union force (Amisom)
deployed in Somalia.
Workers at the mall were seen wearing face masks and some
soldiers wrapped scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench
inside the centre, once the capital's most upmarket mall.
Investigators from Britain, the United States, Israel,
Germany, Canada and Interpol are working in the site.
The Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph Ole Lenku has said the search is an
"elaborate process" and will take at least a week to complete.
"Among the things that are going on now are
fingerprinting, DNA identification [and] ballistic examinations,"
Ole Lenku told reporters on Wednesday.
Officials have called for patience.
"We would like to urge all to enable us to answer all
the questions," Kenya police has said, a statement repeated several times
on social media.
"We all want answers, we all want to know who is
responsible for this brutal, cowardly and unconscionable act," British
High Commissioner Christian Turner said after visiting the site on Wednesday.
"But we now need to let the professionals do their job.
This will take some time."