Kenya's Westgate mall reopens nearly 2 years after tragedy

Updated on Jul 18, 2015 04:24 PM IST
Kenya's Westgate shopping mall reopened for business on Saturday in the capital, nearly two years after Somali Islamists massacred 67 shoppers and staff in four days of carnage.
Kenya's Westgate shopping mall reopened for business on July 18, almost two years after Somali Islamists stormed in and massacred 67 shoppers and staff in four days of carnage. (AFP Photo)
Kenya's Westgate shopping mall reopened for business on July 18, almost two years after Somali Islamists stormed in and massacred 67 shoppers and staff in four days of carnage. (AFP Photo)
AFP | By, Nairobi

Kenya's Westgate shopping mall reopened for business on Saturday in the capital, nearly two years after Somali Islamists massacred 67 shoppers and staff in four days of carnage.

The complex, Nairobi's most upmarket shopping centre and a magnet for the east African nation's growing middle class and expatriates, was badly damaged in the assault by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels and has undergone months of renovation.

Around 50 shoppers queued to be the first to pass through newly-installed metal detectors at the main entrance, after Nairobi governor Evans Kidero and Atul Shah, owner of the main regional supermarket chain Nakumatt, declared the mall back in business in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"Today we are excited because we are back on our feet, and we can convince the world that terrorism is not bringing us down," said Ben Mulla, a 34-year-old communications contractor and a siege survivor.

"I was coming to have a business lunch. The shooting was intense, and I went to hide in a flowerbed. I saw four terrorists... they shot at me and the ricochet from the wall went in my leg. They shot a security guard right in front of me," he recounted.

"They were young men. They were emotionless. They seemed to be enjoying what they were doing. Their faces I will never forget for the rest of my life."



Westgate Mall is often the chosen weekend spot for people in Nairobi. The Nakumatt supermarket is a favourite among Indians, because of the eateries and the Cineplex where even show Hindi movies every now and then. (AFP Photo)

The Shebab said they attacked the mall as retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia, where they are part of an African Union force supporting the internationally-backed Mogadishu government.

Since Westgate, the Shebab have continued to strike Kenya, with an even bigger attack in April when another four suicide attackers massacred 148 people in Kenya's northeastern Garissa University, most of them students.

The attacks have badly damaged Kenya's economy, with the country no longer so widely seen as a bastion of stability in the region. Tourism to Kenya, famed for its national parks, wildlife and Indian Ocean beaches, has also taken a major hit.

Returning for work at one of Westgate's coffee shops, Rachael Logilan, 23, insisted she felt safe in the renovated mall -- despite her memories of being shot at and then spending five hours hiding in a storeroom as the gunmen hunted down their victims.

"Of course it was a trauma. For three months I had bad dreams," said Logilan, one of just a tiny number of siege survivors who have taken up their old jobs. "It's a nice place. You can meet different people. I feel secure."

Read:Indian living 2 minutes away from Westgate Mall speaks to HT

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • President Joe Biden poses for a photo with Vice President Kamala Harris, left, Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden's ambassador to the US, second from left, and Mikko Hautala, Finland's ambassador to the US, right, after signing the Instruments of Ratification for the Accession Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty for the Republic of Finland and Kingdom of Sweden in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, August 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Joe Biden formalises US support for Finland, Sweden joining Nato

    The countries sought out Nato membership earlier this year to guarantee their security in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin's offensive in Ukraine. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's rules require the consent of all of its 30 existing members before Finland and Sweden can officially accede into the alliance, which is expected in the coming months.

  • Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men murdered as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham looks on in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via AP)

    Suspect in killing of four Muslim men arrested in New Mexico

    Muhammad Syed, 51, an Albuquerque resident, was formally charged with two of the homicides: those of Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, killed on July 26 and August 1, respectively, but he is considered a suspect in all four murders, city Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY/AFP)

    Kyiv urges travel ban on Russians as Moscow steps up assault in eastern Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants a one-year travel ban and the apparent expulsion of Russians living in the West so that they could live "in their own world until they change their philosophy." He complained that sanctions imposed so far on Russia to punish it for invading his country on February 24 were too weak.

  • Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea, Tuesday August 9, 2022. (UGC via AP)

    Ukraine is not taking responsibility for Crimea explosions: Prez Zelensky aide

    Mykhailo Podolyak, asked by the Dozhd online television channel whether Kyiv was taking responsibility, replied: "Of course not. What do we have to do with this?"

  • None of the Langya virus cases have so far resulted in fatality and most are mild, with patients suffering from flu-like symptoms. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

    New ‘Langya’ virus hits China as 35 people found infected: How deadly is it?

    Currently, no vaccine or treatment for Langya virus is available, and the only solution is supportive care to manage complications pertaining to the zoonotic disease. A study published earlier revealed that the Langya virus was first spotted in human beings in 2019, with majority of the recent cases this year.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now