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Westgate attack; where is the truth?

18 October 2013, 13:37

Nairobi - Four weeks since Al Shabaab rebels stormed Westgate mall, killing at least 67 people in a four-day siege, multiple questions remain.

Here is an update based on security sources involved in the ongoing investigation.


Several bodies are reported to have been pulled from the wreckage of the mall, but the official toll remains at 67. Kenyan Red Cross lists 23 people as missing.

No evidence has been found so far hostages were held, and while victims are feared buried in the rubble, it is possible those people were killed outright by the gunmen.


Security cameras show only four - perhaps five - attackers, not the dozen that officials initially reported.

One alleged attacker has been named by the BBC as a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin, 23-year old Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow.

Police have named four of the attackers as Abu Baraal Al Sudani, Khatab Ali Khane and one man known simply as Umayr - reportedly all Somalis, plus a Kenyan of Somali origin, Omar Nabhan. However, the names are noms de guerre.


Despite witness reports, there is no sign on security camera footage of a female attacker. At the time, there was widespread speculation of the involvement of a British woman dubbed the "White Widow", 29-year old Muslim convert Samantha Lewthwaite.


The gunmen coldly executed scores of people, with witnesses recounting how in some cases they called out to those wounded, then finished them off at close range.

But investigators who have seen security camera footage, as well as bodies at the morgue, say there is no evidence to back up gruesome media reports of torture.


No bodies have been found of the gunmen, including the five that Kenya boasted of killing.

However, security sources suggest reports that some gunmen could have walked out are unlikely, adding that there is no evidence a tunnel was dug from the mall to connect to a storm drain.

While some could have fled in the chaotic early hours of the siege, the four attackers seen on CCTV are also all seen in the supermarket area after security forces surrounded it.

A fierce fire broke out on the third day after bazooka rockets were fired at the gunmen who had succeeded in holding off the army.

But the answer to what happened to the gunmen lies buried under tonnes of rubble where part of the mall's rooftop carpark collapsed, entombing the supermarket where they are understood to have made their final stand. Wreckage was still smouldering three weeks after the siege.


Investigations involving forces from multiple nations continue.

Two weeks after the attack US special forces raided the southern Somali port of Barawe hunting a senior Al Shabaab commander named as Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir - also known as "Ikrima", a Kenyan of Somali origin - but they missed their target.

However, while Ikrima is linked with Al Qaeda operatives who have attacked Kenya in the past, the raid is not believed to be a direct response to Westgate. Such raids take several weeks at least to prepare, security sources say.



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