Courtesy of Reuters
Militant gunmen stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday killing at least 25 people, including children, and sending scores fleeing in panic from shops and restaurants onto the streets, according to witnesses and the Red Cross.
Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside the Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya’s biggest chains.
“We got three bodies from this shop,” he said, standing a dozen meters from the supermarket entrance and pointing to a children’s shoe shop where blood lay in pools.
He turned to a nearby hamburger bar where piped music still played and food lay abandoned in a similar bloody scene. “And a couple of bodies here.”
The Westgate mall attack was the single biggest since al Qaeda’s east Africa cell bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, in 1998 killing more than two hundred people. In 2002, the same militant cell attacked an Israeli-owned hotel and tried to shoot down an Israeli jet in a coordinated attack.
Tiles were smeared with blood, bullet casings were strewn on the floor and shop windows were shattered. A policeman dragged the corpse of a young girl across the floor and lay her on a stretcher. Two plainclothes policemen lay on the floor with guns trained on the Nakumatt supermarket entrance.