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Kenya's horror of 21 September 2013

18 September 2014, 22:36

Cape Town – It's one year since Somalia's al-Shabaab militants attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, resulting in the death of at least 69 people.  

The mall, with its designer shops and restaurants, had become a symbol of Kenya's rising prosperity. But on 21 September 2013, it became the scene of one of the most chilling attacks in East Africa's history.

Read News24's 23 September 2013 Live Update of the siege here.

Armed with AK-47s and grenades, the militants stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back.

Within a few minutes Kenya had turned into a mourning state and as Nairobi-based AFPTV journalist Nichole Sobecki said at the time: "I've covered many conflicts before, including Somalia, Libya and Afghanistan - so am used to seeing scenes of violence. But to find this taking place in a mall I know well, just minutes from my home, was completely surreal."

File: AFP

Following the attack on the mall, security issues still remain in the east African country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently urged African countries to stand together against the threat of Islamist militants.

"No single state can tackle this threat alone... It is particularly worrying in Africa today that terrorist organisations have grown both in terms of number and capability," Uhuru was quoted as saying.

The trial of four men accused of helping the gunmen opened in January in Nairobi. All deny the charges. The trial is set to continue on 23 September.

Many, especially relatives of the victims of the massacre still have fresh memories of the incident and News24 takes a look at some of those harrowing moments of the fateful day:

CNN footage released after the attack shows the moment when the attackers entered the mall and started shooting at the shoppers who seemed relaxed, and totally oblivious of what the day held for them.

Men, women and children are seen running for their lives as the attackers continue to shoot and kill.

One man on the floor thinks he has found safety and wounded, he gathers strength to try and crawl for help but the gunman returns without mercy and shoots him. Watch the video below.

Another harrowing story is that of an American family who were rescued from the siege by Abdul Haji, the son of a former security minister in the Kenyan government.

According to The Telegraph, Katherine Walton and her three girls survived the attack after Haji noticed the family huddled under a table.

Haji helped the Waltons to come out of the table one by one until they reached the police lines outside the mall.

And yet the story of a woman lying quietly on the floor with her children touched the hearts of many who wondered how the kids did not scream or make some noise that could have easily landed then into the hands of the militants.

Watch the video below as the woman and her children are rescued.

The four-day bloodbath at the upmarket shopping mall was finally brought to an end by Kenyan forces and to date nothing much has been done to bring those responsible to book.

Watch the video below and see the Kenyan forces' efforts.

Meanwhile, a British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage and came up with a harrowing hour-long documentary, Terror at the Mall, which sheds light on what exactly transpired on the fateful day, according to The New York Times.  

The documentary was aired on cable TV channel HBO.

Watch the video below.


- News24

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