Attackers threw grenades and opened fire at the Westgate mall, which has Israeli ownership; Israeli Foreign Ministry says three Israeli citizens escaped unharmed. Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire Saturday killing at least 22 people in an attack targeting non-Muslims at an upscale mall in Kenya’s capital that was hosting a children’s day event, a Red Cross official and witnesses said.
The attackers remained inside and firing subsided as military surrounded the mall hours after the attack.
“They asked people ‘Are you a Muslim?’ and anyone who answered ‘no’ got a bullet . . . ”
People continued to trickle out from hiding places within the Westgate mall, which is frequented by expatriates and rich Kenyans in Nairobi’s affluent Westlands neighborhood. Kenya Red Cross official Abbas Gullet said at least 22 people were killed in the attack that police blamed on terrorists. He said the death toll would likely rise.
The Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera said the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab had told the channel that al Shabaab carried out an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday.
“We are treating this as a terrorist attack,” said police chief Benson Kibue, adding that there are likely no more than 10 attackers involved.
Somali’s rebel group al-Shabab vowed in late 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya’s sending of troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic insurgents. Off duty Sgt. Major Frank Mugungu said Saturday he saw four male attackers and one female, and that he could clearly identify one of the gunmen as a Somali, though he could not identify the rest. . . . .
“They asked people ‘Are you a Muslim?’ and anyone who answered ‘no’ got a bullet,” Moshe Noiman, an Israeli living in Nairobi, who witnessed the terrorist attack described what he had seen to Channel 10 news.
Gilad Milo, an Israeli who witnessed the shooting, told Channel 2 News: “All the Israelis were evacuated from the place as far as we know… It was a very difficult day for us. It is a very difficult day for us. It is a very popular spot in the city. We go to that mall all the time.”
Elijah Kamau, who was at the mall at the time of the midday attack, said that the gunmen made a declaration that non-Muslims would be targeted.
“The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted,” he said. . . . .