Monday 21 May 2018

39 'still missing' from mall raid

Shoppers flee from the Westgate Mall on the opening day of the attack (AP)
Shoppers flee from the Westgate Mall on the opening day of the attack (AP)

Another 39 people remain unaccounted for almost a week after the end of the attack Nairobi mall attack that killed at least 67, the Red Cross has said.

Its report conflicts with the government's contention that there are no remaining missing people from the attack on the Westgate Mall and suggests that the death toll could still rise as investigators dig through the rubble.

"The numbers with us are what we are still showing as open cases that are reported to us," Kenyan Red Cross head Abbas Gullet said.

"The only way to verify this is when the government declares the Westgate Mall 100% cleared - then we can resolve it," he said.

The Red Cross number has been dropping over the past week as bodies have been positively identified and as some missing people have been reunited with their families. On Friday it said the number of missing was 59.

On Sunday Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that police had no missing persons reports from the attack, and did not believe there were any hostages in the mall building when it partially collapsed. He left open the possibility, however, that things might change.

"We think - unless the forensic investigation shows otherwise - we really do think that there were weren't any hostages," he said.

Investigators from Britain, Canada the US and Germany, are helping in the investigation into the attack and are aiding Kenyan forensic experts poring through the mall complex. Results are not expected until later this week at the earliest.

In addition to the 61 civilians and six troops reported killed in the attack, the government has said five of the attackers were killed by gunfire and at least one more is thought to be in the building's rubble.

The militant group al-Shabab has said it carried out the mall attack to punish Kenya for sending its troops into neighboring Somalia to fight the al-Qaida-linked militant group that had seized large parts of that country for years before being dislodged from the capital, Mogadishu.


Meanwhile shop owners at the mall have returned to their stores to find many of their valuables ransacked. One witness said he even saw a soldier take cigarettes out of a dead man's pocket.

Owners and managers spent the day moving merchandise and other valuables out of their shops and restaurants. No one knows when the mall will open again.

Employees of a book shop returned to find cash registers open and the cash gone. The store's laptops were also stolen. But owner Paku Tsavani said all the books were untouched.


Press Association

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