Saturday 24 February 2018

Dozens still missing after Kenyan mall massacre

A woman reads a list of the names of those who died, as Kenyans pay their respects in front of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya
A woman reads a list of the names of those who died, as Kenyans pay their respects in front of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya

Ben Farmer in Nairobi

NO hostages were left in the devastated Nairobi shopping centre where terrorists killed 67 people, the Kenyan government has said, despite a Red Cross estimate that dozens remain missing after the attack.

Kenya's interior minister said nine suspects were now in custody following last week's attack by al-Shabaab militants. Joseph Ole Lenku also criticised an American decision to upgrade its travel warning for citizens heading to the east African country, saying it was "unnecessary" and "unfriendly".

Kenyan security forces believe between 10 and 15 terrorists attacked the Westgate centre on September 21, throwing grenades and opening fire indiscriminately.

Five were killed in the attack, but Mr Ole Lenku would not say if the remainder were suspected of having been gunmen or part of the wider plot.

A British man arrested at Nairobi airport in the aftermath of the attack remains in custody, but Mr Ole Lenku declined to comment on reports that Sharif Ahmed Abdirazak had been carrying plans of the shopping centre on his laptop.

The British High Commission has previously said his arrest was not considered central to the investigation.

Five days after the siege ended, the Red Cross's latest figures show 59 people are still registered as missing in the attack.

Three floors of the building collapsed in the later stages of the fighting and rescuers have said they fear bodies are still trapped.

TRAVEL

However, Mr Ole Lenku said the death toll still stood at 67 and there were no hostages left in the building after the attack, "unless forensic evidence shows otherwise".

He also asked America to lift a travel advisory urging US citizens to "evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism" in the east African country.

"We believe issuing the travel advisory is counter-productive in the fight against global terrorism," Mr Ole Lenku said.

Meanwhile yesterday , Karen Wambui walked slowly through the Nairobi city morgue's turquoise and yellow iron gates, still trying to process what she had seen inside.

She had just confirmed that the last body still there from the Westgate Mall attack nearly a week earlier was that of her son, Calan Munyaka.

The 27-year-old was one of 37 victims of the al-Shabaab terrorist assault whose bodies were brought to the single-story main morgue building in the Kenyan capital, where a crucifix is nailed above the wooden entrance doors and the smell of the dead drifts out the open windows. Other bodies were taken to city hospitals and elsewhere.

For nearly a week, Mr Munyaka lay in the morgue, identified only as "Kenyan male, adult." Last Friday afternoon, the pathologists pulled Mr Munyaka's corpse from a refrigerated chamber and showed MS Wambui.

"I've just seen a gunshot," she said, wiping her eyes with a light blue sweatshirt. "Here," she added, pointing to the left side of her neck. (© The Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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