Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Rescuers scour mall for siege victims

25 September 2013, 20:28

Nairobi - Security officers and rescue workers are scoured the wreckage of Westgate shopping mall on Wednesday for bodies and booby-trapped explosives after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing.

Rescuers wore face masks and some soldiers wrapped scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench inside Westgate, once the capital's most upmarket mall. A large part of the complex has collapsed after heavy explosions and a fierce fire.

Across Kenya, flags flew at half mast at the start of three days of official mourning.

Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab rebels claimed on Twitter that 137 hostages they had seized had all died, figures impossible to verify and higher than the number of people officially registered as missing. They also accused KDF of using "chemical agents" to end the stand-off.

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. Police said the death toll was provisional, with the Kenyan Red Cross listing 63 people as still missing.

Top forensic experts and investigators from Israel, the US and Britain are supporting Kenyan teams, officials said, with many questions remaining over the identity of the attackers, the possible presence of a British woman and American jihadists, and how the cell got such large quantities of weapons and ammunition into the complex.

'Many bodies' still inside

An AFP reporter outside the bullet-riddled mall saw teams of sniffer dogs, which will check for explosives and victims buried under the rubble of a collapsed part of the building. One rescue worker said he saw "many bodies" inside.

"The army told us we would get access to the bodies yesterday, but then said it was too dangerous for us to go in because of booby traps and because of the part that caved in. We have to get access today," a Kenyan Red Cross official told AFP.

"The bodies that are still inside the mall will have to be identified from photos. They are now in such a state of decomposition that you can't put a family member through that," the official said.

In one of the worst attacks in Kenya's history, the militants marched into the four-storey, part Israeli-owned mall at midday Saturday, spraying shoppers with automatic weapons fire and tossing grenades.

The attack, which intelligence experts said they had no specific prior warning of, was well planned and prepared, with fighters stocked with enough ammunition to hold off Kenyan forces backed by American, British and Israeli agents.

Close to 200 were wounded in the siege, which saw running battles between militants and security forces in one of Nairobi's largest and most modern shopping centres. The mall is popular with wealthy Kenyans, diplomats, UN workers and other expatriates, and was packed when the attack began.

The siege developed into a hostage drama with Al-Shabaab claiming civilians were being held, and Kenyan special forces described the final stand-off as delicate - with gunmen running and hiding in supermarket aisles, store rooms, a cinema and casino and placing booby traps.

Al-Shabaab fighters said they carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenya's two-year battle against the extremists' bases in the country.

A British national was also arrested in Nairobi, Britain's foreign office said, without giving further details.

Families of those still missing are anxiously waiting for news of their relatives, with the Red Cross and expert counsellors and psychologists setting up tents at Nairobi's City Mortuary to offer support to sobbing relatives.

Security has also been beefed up across the capital, but away from the burnt out Westgate complex, people in Nairobi appeared to be trying to return, as far as possible, to everyday life.

"It is about getting on and not letting the terrorists win by disturbing our lives any more," said student James Kamau, reading a newspaper full of photographs of heavily armed KDF soldiers staging the final operations to clear the mall of attackers late on Tuesday.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Former Assistant Minister joins J...

A former Assistant Minister has quit PNU and joined the Jubilee Party. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...