Masked gunmen entered the crowded, upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, throwing grenades and opening fire with AK-47s on Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013, killing and targeting non-Muslims. The mall was hosting a children’s day event.
Several witnesses said the attackers shouted for Muslims to run away while they hunted down other shoppers. The mall, one of Nairobi’s most luxurious, with some of the most expensive shops in town, is popular with expatriates. It has served as the place for a power lunch, to catch a movie and to bring children for ice cream. On Saturday, the State Department said there were reports of injured American citizens but declined to elaborate, citing privacy considerations.
Western intelligence officials are investigating if the attack was carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia that has carried out suicide attacks and beheadings and threatened Kenyan malls before. They claimed responsibility for the attack on their now-suspended Twitter. The group wrote: “The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf” and “What Kenyans are witnessing at #Westgate is retributive justice for crimes committed by their military.”
Kenya’s President Uruhu Kenyatta said at least 39 had died and 150 were injured in the assault. “Terrorism is and of itself is a philosophy of cowards,” he said in an address to the nation on Saturday night. “We are as brave and invincible as the lions on our coat of arms.”
Click here to see photos released from the horrible attack.