By JAMES MAZARAKIS
Terror struck Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, when six gunmen stormed the area on Saturday, Sept. 21, before initiating a four-day siege that would take the lives of over 60 people.
“There will be begging questions and we will be waiting for answers from the authorities,” vice-chair of the Kenya Editors Guild David Ohito tells the Guardian.
It was a beautiful day in Nairobi; people of all ages were participating in activities and relaxing in the café. Then, "like a Hollywood-action scene," according hospital volunteer Abiti Shah's interview on CNN, the attackers arrived, shooting passerby from the outside and into the mall thereafter. Taking hostages and outright murdering passerby, the group took the lives of 39 people within hours.
"There is no sort of hard perimeter by which you could screen for security purposes, and so it's difficult to protect,” says CNN security analyst Fran Townsend.
Later that day, the terrorists revealed themselves on Twitter: Al-Shabaab, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda. They continued the bloodshed straight through the night, placing siege on the entire mall. The next day, Kenyan officials decided to send their greatest security force into the mall, hoping to capture the terrorists.
"[The operation] was spearheaded by Kenyan defence force which made inroads to the mall where captors were taking cover,” says Kenyan news channel KTN.
By Monday, the third day of the siege, half of the terrorists had been toppled by Kenyan forces and 200 hostages had been released. The situation was not resolved, however, until Tuesday, Sept. 24, when President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the siege over. "We have ashamed and defeated our attackers,” he told his people.
It was not without cost. With 61 civilians dead and a handful of security officers lost, the attack was a tragedy for not only Nairobi and Kenya, but the world. Among the dead were five Americans, a Canadian diplomat, and President Kenyatta's nephew and fiancée. The terrorists allegedly spared some who reported to be Muslim, but the attack was clearly politically-driven. One gunman declared that the people in the mall were “killing [their] women and children in Somalia.”With a virtually demolished mall, dozens of broken families, and an even more damaged spirit, Kenyatta hopes his nation will move on from the tragedy. "Our attackers wish to destroy the essential character of our society. They failed. Kenya endures."