Survivors recount Westgate Mall terror attack
23 September 2013, 20:29
Nairobi - Shell-shocked eyewitnesses of the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack initiated by the Al shabaab terrorist group from Somalia recounted how the life-shattering incident occurred.
The attacks at the mall in Nairobi left 62 people dead with more than 200 others injured.
Judith Kwamboka told CAJ News how the events wrecked a romantic outing with her boyfriend.
"I and my boyfriend were having a romantic afternoon inside the building when all of a sudden a loud blast shook the entire complex. At first we attempted to run the eastern direction, but my boyfriend grabbed me by force so that we waited to see where the real danger was coming from. I was panicking, crying and clueless as we saw hordes of other people on stampede from the first floor running for their lives towards the main exit," she said.
Kwamboka said there was huge confusion, stampedes and crying at the scene while women struggled to save their children.
"Immediately, I saw some motionless bodies, and knew they were dead bodies," Kwamboka said.
Jeremiah Adero said he was not aware of his girlfriend’s whereabouts.
“Immediately after the blast, I could not locate my girlfriend," Adero said.
He added: "I do not think she is dead, but we have not spoken together since then, maybe she is still in a panic.”
Juliana Otieno said she was waiting for the photographer to take her shots when she heard sudden screams.
"I did not hear anything.....even the bomb blast itself. While I was posing for the first of the three photo shots, some men came running at full speed before knocking us down. The photographer fell five metres away.
"I also fell. While we were still wondering what drove these men, crazy hordes of other people followed stomping on us,” she said.
“I struggled to release myself from the stampede. The commotion was serious. I did not care whether we were running away from the terrorists or running towards them. I just followed the hordes of other people," Otieno said.
Otieno said it was then that there were police officers and military personnel outside who then guided the people to safety.
"It was then that I was told the mall was under siege from the Al shabaab terrorists. I could now see helicopters hovering above us with gunfire being exchanged between government forces and the terrorists in question," Otieno said.
Ishmael Wanga said all those evacuated to safety were led out of the mall while others ran for refuge at a nearby police station.
"It was just like an action movie. At first I thought those people telling us to quickly move out of the building were joking,” he said.
The survivor added, “We always read in the bible that death comes like a thief. That is what happened here. The next thing, we saw journalists everywhere taking photos others filming the developments but from a distance. They were scared too.”
The gunfire between government forces and terrorists continued from inside as the hordes of people continued to run for dear life while others leaving their belongings bought inside the mall.
"There was chaos everywhere. Even police officers were not so sure what sort of help they could offer until the soldiers controlled the situation," Omondi Mariga said.
Al shabaab is a Somali terrorist group heavily linked to the notorious al Qaeda worldwide network that operates anti-United States and Western influence in domestic affairs, mainly in the Muslim communities across the world.
- CAJ News