Africa

Kenya papers appalled by attack

Kenyan men read newspaper
Image caption It is not known how many civilians remain trapped in the centre

Kenya's leading newspapers give extensive coverage to the continuing stand-off at an upmarket shopping centre in Nairobi, in which dozens of people died.

The Westgate Mall came under attack by the Somali militant group Al-Shabab on Saturday.

'Brazen attack'

"Day of Terror" reads a front-page headline in Sunday's edition of The Standard newspaper, which features large pictures of civilians running away from the shopping centre, including one of a gun-wielding plain-clothed police officer carrying a small child, and a woman walking crouched.

"Al-Shabab claims responsibility for deadly attack" and "Kenya Red Cross, hospitals appeal for blood donations" read two other prominent headlines.

The daily carries a seven-page colour feature dedicated to the attack. One report is headlined "Attacks shatters nation again" and another one "39 killed, 150 others injured in day of terror of city mall". The feature provides eyewitness accounts, as well as photos of rescued victims running away from the shopping centre.

"We have come to [take] revenge, gunmen told victims before they opened fire," says another headline. The report mentions a taxi driver who survived the ordeal and says he heard the attackers say: "If you are a Muslim get out" and "those who identified themselves as Muslims were allowed to exit the mall".

An editorial, entitled "Bring perpetrators of brazen attack to book", urges a tough response.

"Our prayers are with those who lost their loved ones or those injured and the many brave emergency workers, military and police personnel who continued to work feverishly in response to the attacks late into the night.

"It is now up to the government to move in decisively to resolve the issue and bring to book the perpetrators."

Picture row

"Mall massacre" says the main front-page headline in another leading daily, Sunday Nation, which devotes over one third of the edition - 15 pages - to the attack. The front page features a close-up of a woman lying on the ground, her hair matted and her face bloodied.

Image caption The Star daily's website is carrying regular updates on the ongoing rescue operations

"A victim shrieks in pain after gunmen attacked a city shopping centre," the caption reads.

The picture has drawn criticism from some Twitter users who accuse the paper of being insensitive and playing into the hands of the militants.

The paper carries a double-page colour spread of pictures of the injured shoppers escaping from the mall, visibly panicked.

A short report entitled "Terrorists turn day of peace into a day of pain" points out that the attack ironically coincides with World Peace Day.

'Caught off guard'

"Worst terror attack since August 1998", says another headline. One of the reports features a photo of shoppers walking down an escalator, their hands held above their heads, apparently under the instructions of a plain clothes police officer.

"Deadly mall assault caught police off guard", reads the headline of another report which quotes a top security officer saying the attack had caught them "by surprise".

The paper also reports the president's address to the nation and that UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed his solidarity with the victims of the attack.

In its editorial, entitled "Attackers will never break Kenyan spirit" the paper calls on Kenyans to stand united in the face of the attack:

"Today as we mourn the dead and nurse the injured, it is more important than ever for Kenyans to stand together as one - notwithstanding creed, race, religion, gender or political persuasion - and emerge stronger from this misfortune.

"The dark intentions of our enemies are to spread fear and despondency and eventually bend us to their whims. It is a great pleasure this great nation must not afford them."

The editorial features the cartoon of a skull, above which the words: "Terrorism rears its ugly head again" are printed.

Finally, the website of the Star newspaper, which is carrying regular updates on the ongoing rescue operations, quotes Deputy President William Ruto describing the attack as "cowardly and wicked" and offering his condolences to the families of the bereaved and injured.

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