Kenya vows no Somalia pullout after attack

2013-09-28 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Kenya has vowed not to bow to Shabaab threats of more attacks if troops are not pulled out of Somalia, following a devastating mall attack in Nairobi by the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.

"We went to Somalia because al-Shabaab was a threat to national security... We will continue to take action on that front until our security and interests in the country are protected," Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters on Friday.

Somalia's Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane said the Nairobi Westgate mall carnage in which at least 67 people were killed would be followed by "more bloodshed" unless Kenya left Somalia.

Kenya invaded southern Somalia to attack Shabaab bases two years ago, and later joined the 17 700-strong African Union force deployed in the country.

Funerals continued on Friday for the victims on the third and final day of official mourning, with President Uhuru Kenyatta attending the service of his slain nephew.

As well as scores of Kenyans, many of the dead were foreigners, including from Britain, Canada, China, France, the Netherlands, India, South Africa and South Korea.

Nigerian Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka and other writers paid tribute to renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor who was among the dead.

"We denounce these enemies of humanity," Soyinka said, accompanied by several writers and authors at a press conference in Freedom Park in central Lagos, Nigeria's largest city.

Dozens more are unaccounted for, with 59 people still listed by the Red Cross as missing after the attack, one of the worst in Kenya's history.

Barrage of bullets

The extremists on Friday gloated at the massacre, which saw a group of gunmen storm the part Israeli-owned complex at midday Saturday, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff, before holding off Kenyan and foreign forces with a barrage of bullets for four days.

"The mesmeric performance by the Westgate Warriors was undoubtedly gripping, but despair not folks, that was just the premiere of Act 1," the group said in one of a string of messages posted on social media.

Since the unprecedented 80-hour siege ended late on Tuesday, the Shabaab have claimed responsibility for an attack Thursday on a police compound on the border with Somalia, killing two officers.

Attacks are common in Kenya's north-eastern border with Somalia, with regular grenade blasts or shooting ever since Kenyan troops crossed into southern Somalia two years ago.

Close to 200 people were wounded in the four-day mall carnage in one of Nairobi's largest shopping centres, which was popular among wealthy Kenyans, diplomats, UN workers and other expatriates.

Police continued to scour the fire-blackened rubble in Westgate for bodies and clues, with Lenku insisting that contents of smashed shops would be protected from looters.

Kenya's parliamentary defence committee meanwhile ordered army, security and intelligence chiefs to answer questions about the handling of the siege next week.

Army fired bazooka rockets

Police have pleaded for patience as Kenyan and international teams - including from Britain, the United States, Israel, Germany, Canada and Interpol - painstakingly examine the mall.

With around a third of the building collapsed - as though hit by an earthquake - and with the risk of booby traps amongst the mangled wreckage, the work of international forensic and security experts will take days to complete.

Several members of the Kenyan forces involved in battle inside the mall said that the fire broke out on Monday after Kenyans fired at least two bazooka anti-tank rockets at the gunmen, who were holed up in the strong room of a supermarket.

"In the end we had to use full force, we had to finish with these guys," said one member of the elite force.

Top Interpol official Jean-Michel Louting, speaking near the mall, told AFP the challenge for investigators was to try "to remove the three levels that collapsed and see what is underneath".

Interpol issued an international arrest notice at Kenya's request for 29-year-old Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the 'White Widow', a reference to her marriage to one of the suicide bombers who killed 52 people in London's July 2005 terror attacks.

Nairobi accuses her of alleged links to the Shabaab and the possession of explosives in a 2011 plot, and there has been widespread media speculation over her possible role in Nairobi's deadly siege, despite no concrete evidence so far.

Five suspected attackers were killed in the mall and eight other people detained, officials said. Three others have since been released without charge.

Kenya further sought to shrug off the threats with the government issuing a defiant statement to say plans to raise close to $1.5bn in a debut international bond issue were unaffected.

"The Kenyan economy, just like the spirit of our people, is unshaken by the recent tragedy," Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said in a statement.

Still the country remains traumatised.

Somalis living in Kenya are terrified of retaliatory attacks, against the half a million refugees as well as members of the native ethnic Somali community.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  samantha lewthwaite  |  kenya  |  kenya mall attack  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.