24 Sep 2013

Kenyan siege declared over – but questions remain

Were they all Somali? Was there a woman? Are all the terrorists and hostages dead? So many questions remain unanswered even as the Kenyan President declares the Westgate siege over.

The eyewitnesses I have spoken to all say the attackers were young men speaking Somali and Somali-accented Swahili. One woman, whom I won’t name because she fears reprisals, rushed to Westgate when she heard that her friend – a Muslim Somali like her – had been shot. From outside the mall, she kept calling his mobile, hoping against hope that the news would turn out to be untrue, that he would answer.

Eventually someone picked up the phone, but to her horror it was not her friend, but his killer.

“He said, ‘We don’t want him to go to the mortuary,'” she told me. “He’s here on third floor at the parking lot. We want you to go the ambulance and talk to those Yehuds..'”

In other words, the killer didn’t want the body of a Muslim – let alone a Somali Muslim – to be collected by the authorities, whom he referred to as “Yehud”, meaning Jews. It was impossible to go and pick up her friend’s body, so she informed the police, who – after some persuasion – got her to ring the number again.

The terrorist picked up again but in the middle of the conversation, he heard the police officers talking.

“I think he feared I was setting him up and he hung the phone up on me,” she said.

It was a clue, or a contact, that could have been vital but the police were unwilling to use it so she gave up. She made one last call. The killer shouted at her for failing to collect her friend’s body and said that now others had retrieved it and she would find it at the hospital.

“He was calm, she said. “He was only angry one time when he said I should have collected the body.”

She could scarcely believe who she was talking to.

“He’s the one who killed my brother,” she said. “I wanted to reach down that phone and grab him. It was really hurting.”

Fearing that she might come under suspicion for talking to the terrorists, she asked the mobile phone company to cut the line. It was a painful episode for her, and a missed opportunity for the Kenyan police, still struggling to identify the Westgate killers.

Follow @lindseyhilsum on Twitter

Tweets by @lindseyhilsum

4 reader comments

  1. Sarah Andlewood says:

    The first paragraph has no correlation to the rest of his article. I can’t seem to understand the point of the first paragraph posing them questions if it fails to answer or even attempt to answer them! Interesting piece otherwise.

  2. Matt E. says:

    Nairobi has entered the modern, Western world with its malls and other amenities you find in Europe or North America. The utilities have improved, Internet and even some of the roads. Most importantly the police and security have not entered the modern world in what should be expected for this type of city. In daily conversations you hear everyone saying the same thing about police corruption and abuse of power as well as how underpaid they are. In order for Nairobi and Kenya to reach their goal of an industrialized nation it needs to sort out it’s everyday safety and security. A person in Nairobi is at enormously greater risk of suffering a violent robbery than a terrorist attack.

  3. Mask says:

    Tell it to the birds, your story is not adding up. Style up and know how to make a sensible story!!!!

  4. Jan says:

    Dear Friends. For the deceased hero of the nation we mourns and weeps. We give to him admiration, gratitude and immortal tribute, which he rightly belongs. Heroes regrettably often die,but do not stop their heroic deeds will never die. Always and again we need to be aware of such values govern our society , that love , heroism and sacrifice for someone with me put on the highest pedestal. But what do we do with completely opposite extreme ? We can not justly punish extremist criminals who fled from justice and are dead. In any case , we should send a clear message to our community, to our entire society , that anyone who tramples on basic human rights , who do not appreciate and does not respect the freedom and live of every single person anywhere on the earth, to him will be denied the right to be member of the human community. It should be a symbolic act , that terror and murder we will not accept anyone, anywhere and never , even after death.

Comments are closed.