Saturday 21 October 2017

Girl (12) saw 'white lady' among Nairobi terrorists

Aislinn Laing, Zoe Flood and Gordon Rayner

A schoolgirl who saw her nine-year-old brother shot dead by terrorists in Nairobi has told her teachers she saw a white woman among the attackers.

Poorvi Jain (12) said the woman was accompanied by two boys aged just 15 or 16, one of whom was wearing a bandanna and carrying a guitar case, from which he produced a gun.

Her account is the latest piece of evidence which suggests that British terrorism suspect Samantha Lewthwaite may have been part of the al-Shabaab gang that killed as many as 130 people during a four-day siege.

Lewthwaite (29), who was born in Banbridge, Co Down, is the widow of 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay. She has been on the run in east Africa for two years after allegedly plotting to attack Western targets in Kenya.

Dr Geetika Saxena, Ms Jain's head teacher, said: "Poorvi said she saw these men just going around 360 degrees with their guns. She said they were just not considering anyone, if the bullet doesn't touch you, you're lucky, otherwise that's it. She described the men and says she saw a white lady.

"She said she saw her there with two other men. One boy was wearing a bandanna and carrying a guitar case out of which he pulled a gun."

Ms Jain's brother Pramsu was shot dead by armed Islamists as he watched his sister take part in a cookery competition organised by a radio station in the rooftop car park of the mall.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan authorities were facing significant questions over their handling of the Westgate mall massacre last night after it was claimed clear warnings about the attack may have been missed.

Gidion Sonko, a Kenyan politician, told Kenya's senate yesterday that two constituents had come to him two months ago to report that "terrorists" were living near them and planning attacks in Nairobi.

EXPLAIN

He said that he informed Kenya's National Intelligence Service about this, but alleged that they failed to act.

Kenya's government was also under pressure to explain how a terror cell was able to move heavy weapons and ammunition into the centre undetected.

It has not been ruled out that the gang, said to be from Somalia's al-Shabaab group, had rented a shop in the complex and used it to cache their arsenal ahead of Saturday's assault.

It was still unclear last night how many hostages had been held or had died as the siege developed. The Kenya Red Cross has compiled a list of 71 people registered as missing since Saturday.

Suggestions of an intelligence failure echoed earlier reports about a spike in suspicious activity and communications up to six months ago that suggested a strike being planned.

"We've got 20-20 hindsight now, and that makes it very easy to say that something that didn't properly come out of the background chatter back then should have been noticed," said one Western official focused on cross-border security.

US officials yesterday suggested that the gang had a colluding employee at the mall. This allowed them to stash "powerful, belt-fed machine guns" in the days leading up to the assault, the 'New York Times' reported. Several survivors of the siege said they saw gunmen with very heavy weapons during the attack. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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