Shooting at Kenyan shopping centre leaves at least nine dead
Armed assailants stormed Westgate mall in Nairobi and opened fire
An image of the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Image: Google Maps.
At least nine people have been reported dead after gunmen burst into a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, today and opened fire.
Police helicopters circled overhead as armed police shouted “get out, get out”, and scores of shoppers fled the building, witnesses said. Smoke poured out of one entrance and witnesses said they heard grenade blasts.
Others said they saw about five armed assailants storm the Westgate shopping mall and that the incident appeared to be an attack rather than an armed robbery.
The Somali militant group al Shabaab has previously threatened to strike the Westgate mall that is popular with the city’s expatriate community. It would have been packed on a Saturday morning. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incident.
“They don’t seem like thugs, this is not a robbery incident,” said Yukeh Mannasseh who was on the mall’s top floor when the shooting started. “It seems like an attack. The guards who saw them said they were shooting indiscriminately.”
One eyewitness told Reuters he heard the screech of brakes followed moments later by an explosion and then sustained gun fire from the ground floor.
Sporadic gun shots could be heard almost two hours after the shooting started as police combed the building.
At least two dozen wounded were wheeled out on stretchers and shopping trolleys. Many of the victims had multiple light wounds, apparently from flying debris. Other walked out, some with bloodied clothing wrapped around wounds.
“I personally touched the eyes of four people and they were dead. One of them was a child,” said one former British soldier at the scene.
“It’s carnage up there.”
Asked if the attack was a robbery, one paramilitary officer said: “No, terrorist”. There has, though, been no official statement from the police regarding the attackers’ motive.
Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in central Nairobi’s Westlands neighbourhood.