It has been nine days since the Westgate terror began that lasted for over four days. The investigation into the whys and wherefore’s of the attack began as soon as the Kenya defense forces took control of the besieged mall, since when Kenyans have been hopeful that the many questions they have surrounding the atrocity would be answered sooner rather than later. Some hope.
The interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Ole Lenku and President Kenyatta have separately held press conferences to brief the public on the matter but the former has left a lot to be desired as far as addressing the critical issues of the Westgate terror attack goes.
HOW MANY HOSTAGES?
Quite elusive has been the answers to the question surrounding the whereabouts of the hostages who had been reportedly been captured by the armed militia prior to KDF taking control of the mall.
According to the first reports given by the Ole Lenku, most of the hostages had been rescued although the story would later convert to allegations that the few hostages that remained were an ‘insignificant number’ and were probably buried under the rubble when a sizeable section of the mall collapsed following reportedly 20 explosions.
Later, on Sunday, Ole Lenku maintained that it could not be ascertained if there were any hostages in the building at the time the siege was declared over last Wednesday.
HOW MANY MISSING?
Consequently, Kenyans have not spared Ole Lenku who they are now convinced is just the wrong person for the job as his contradictory statements seemed to add more confusion to the situation at hand.
67 people were reported to have been killed in the Westgate attack, over 167 injured and according to the Kenya Red Cross, 60 people had been reported missing but as of yesterday, the Red Cross announced that the number of missing people had dropped to 39.
According to Red Cross Secretary General, Abbas Gullet, 14 among those reported missing had been found alive and discharged from various hospitals at the end of the siege while seven were confirmed dead.
HOW MANY TERRORISTS DIED?
The other issue of contention is whether the government really got hold of any of the terrorists. The KDF were reported to have killed five but the government is yet to find the bodies. This comes amid reports that the terrorists would have escaped through an underground tunnel that links the Westgate mall and a neighbouring building.
The Star today ran a story under the headline ‘FOREIGN ANALYSTS FRUSTRATED OVER DNA’ on their front page. The foreign investigators from Germany, Britain, Israel and Canada, who had been called in the county a day after the attack to join the Kenyan team in forensic investigations, have expressed frustration with the Kenyan security team which has been reluctant to allow access to the allegedly captured terrorists’ bodies.
Why would the security force be adverse to provide the foreign team with the samples they need, ask the Kenya Forum? Maybe there are just no bodies to obtain samples from? Was the government just playing lip service when it claimed to have killed five of the terrorists? The total number of the terrorists had been estimated to be between 10- 15 which then makes us wonder what happened to the other 10 if at all KDF killed five.
HOW MANY TERRORISTS ESCAPED?
‘HOUSE TEAM TOLD KDF YET TO FIND BODIES OF FIVE MALL ATTACKERS’ runs a headline to a story on page 2 of The Standard today. It reported that the state has not yet retrieved five bodies of the attackers who were allegedly killed last week. As the KDF explained to MPs who had visited the scene yesterday, they suspect that the bodies of the five terrorists are buried in one corner covered by rubble.
It’s yet another revelation that casts doubts on the progress of the investigations and raises the possibilities that most if not all the terrorists involved in the attack, walked out of the mall and were most probably following the events on their TV’s just as were most of us.
A tweet by Al-Shabaab claims that all their terrorists involved in the attack returned home safe even though the authenticity of that claim cannot be established.
MASSIVE LOOTING AT THE MALL
Meanwhile, Westgate shop owners were treated to a rude shock when the police gave them access to their businesses only to discover that their shops had been looted mercilessly. Nothing was spared from jewelry, cash tills to broken or tampered safes.
Some Kenyans are known to take advantage of calamities for their own good and cases of individuals rushing to accident scenes to steal from the victims are not rare but in the Westgate case this correspondent can vouch that Wananchi had no ability to obtain anything from the mall.
OFFICERS OF LOOT ENFORCEMENT?
For the shoppers and staff in the various shops in the mall, following the circumstances of the attack, their priority here was to run or rather hide for their dear lives and most of them actually left their personal items behind. As for the spectators outside the mall, there is no way they could access the crime scene which had been cordoned off by the police and if anyway, who would dare risk it? We are therefore left with only two suspects, the KDF and the terrorists but it’s quite evident that the latter had no interest in valuables. So did KDF loot the shops in the mall during their operation and will the team be indicted of the crime as Ole Lenku asserted that perpetrators of the looting will be prosecuted?
Gado’s cartoon in The Daily Nation today could not have captured the scenario better. It depicted heavily armed soldiers looting a bank, jewellery store and mobile phone shop under the caption, ‘Another Westgate Exclusive Rescue Operation Footage Never Seen Before…’ If this is anything to go by, we know why the siege had to take four days.