Posted September 21, 2020 9:28 am by

Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 21- Ahead of this 7th anniversary of the Westgate terror attack, I was clueless on what to write of it.

Most of the survivors whose contact I kept after multiple interviews are no longer willing to speak about it. They just want to heal. They want to forget. They want closure.

Detectives and security experts have turned the events of that dark day upside down while trying to provide answers to some of the hard questions; what went wrong? Were all terrorists killed? How many were they? Could it have been done better?

Terrorists attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in September 2013. Photo/ FILE

It is an incident that reminds me of my earlier days in my career as a young Crime Reporter.

I was aged 23 years old.

On this day, my Editor had sent me to check out on an explosion along Juja Road. Everyone thought it was terror-related. I was equally convinced.

Grenade attacks were a common trend in town, mostly blamed on Al Shabaab attackers.

But I realised that it was a gas cylinder that had exploded with no casualties reported. On my way back to the office, I received a call from my Editor.

“Rush to the Westgate mall in Westland’s. There is something happening there. I think it is a bank robbery,” he directed, without further details.

But before I could get to the scene, my editor deployed two of my colleagues, a Reporter and a Camera person who I found at the scene.

Up to now, it remained a robbery incident and no one wanted to confirm otherwise. There was gunfire all over. At the scene, I saw ambulances and many security officers, all confused and terrified. It was chaotic.

Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget
Police officers respond to a terror attack in the Westgate Mall in 2013. /CFM-FILE.

A large crowd had formed outside, and with my media card, I was able to access the scene with ultimate proximity.

I recall seeing photojournalists jostle for space as hundreds of injured survivors were being rescued and taken into waiting ambulances.

This marked the beginning of a four-day siege that left Kenya’s security forces with numerous criticisms on how they handled the rescue operation.

Joseph Ole Lenku, the current Governor for Kajiado was the Interior Minister.

For four days, I camped outside the mall as my colleagues kept checking updates in hospitals. I would occasionally rush home for a quick meal, Read More…Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget  Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget  Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget  Westgate terror attack: the dark day we all wish to forget