The People's Story: Attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall
It began with gunfire as people were enjoying their Saturday lunchtime at a busy shopping centre in Nairobi. Children were at a cookery competition in the food court on the second floor and shoppers were strolling the aisles of the supermarket on the first two floors. Chaos quickly took hold as shots rang out and people were hit. Minutes ran into hours for some who became trapped inside. Hiding behind trolleys, in backroom stores and cupboards - the harrowing testimony of eyewitnesses and survivors slowly began to emerge.
Day two and the death toll begins to rise. Many Kenyans are among the dead including the nephew of President Uhuru Kenyatta, and many foreign nationals including the Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor. More details from eyewitnesses explain how gunmen were shooting at people, including women and children. They describe how bodies were stacked up in doorways. The Kenyan army and police move in to try and rescue those inside. Tweets from al-Shabab give a chilling commentary to events unfolding. One reads ‘The Kenyan govt shall be held responsible for any loss of life as a result of such an imprudent move. The call is yours!’
Day three and there are over 60 people dead and 170 injured. People are donating blood to hospitals and there is talk of a ‘final assault’ to end the stand-off. The siege continues with hostages believed to be inside along with 10-15 attackers. Black smoke is seen rising from the Mall and there is the sound of heavy gunfire. As night falls, there is still no conclusion.
Day four and the reality of events is starting to sink in for survivors - the children who narrowly missed bullets and the families of those bereaved. As tears and grief take over from the adrenalin-filled first moments of this attack, the BBC’s Anne Soy reflects on what these last few days will mean for the future of her city and all the residents of Nairobi.
(Photo: A Kenyan soldier runs through the upper floor of the Westgate Mall, Kenya. Credit: AP)