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Sunday 18 March 2018

Mall mourners remember the victims

Relatives of one of the mall attack victims with a tree planted in memory (AP)
Relatives of one of the mall attack victims with a tree planted in memory (AP)

Mourners from different races and religions have planted saplings at a memorial ceremony for the nearly 70 people killed in Nairobi's shopping mall massacre a month ago.

By design, no major political or religious leaders were invited, giving the crowd of 400 or so a family-only feel. But the actions of Kenya's security forces weighed on family members who quietly seethed over allegations and newly released video images of Kenyan Defense Forces - KDF - soldiers looting the mall.

Despite those lingering images, the organisers tried to foster a "We Are One" feeling - a chant repeated by the crowd - in the wake of an attack that saw al-Qaida-linked terrorists spare some Muslims who could recall religious phrases, leaving behind non-Muslims to be killed.

"Today we don't come so much to mourn the departed but to remind ourselves we built a nation that all can live in, young and old, white and black, Christian and Muslim, Hindu and Jain," said Karanja Njoroge, chairman of the Friends of Karura Forest, a sprawling urban park filled with hiking and biking trails where the memorial and tree-planting was held.

Prayers were offered to both Jesus and Allah. Mourners removed their shoes for a Sikh prayer. A school band from Kenya's Indian community played, while a red-clad choir of black youngsters sang in Swahili, the national language meant to bind Kenya's 40-odd tribes. Mourners crowded a narrow path running through the forest.

Kenya now believes it has found the remains of all four gunmen responsible for the massacre. Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet secretary for interior, said: "We recovered a fourth body, which we know from CCTV footage to be that of a terrorist."

He said the remains of three people recovered at the mall last week are also believed to be "those of the terror suspects." Closed-circuit TV footage from Westgate Mall shows four gunmen taking part in the attack.

Mr Lenku said "DNA and other investigations will confirm their identities."

So far, one gunmen has been identified: Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a Somali-Norwegian.


Press Association

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