Kenya's Westgate mall reopens nearly 2 years after tragedy | World News - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Kenya's Westgate mall reopens nearly 2 years after tragedy

AFP | By, Nairobi
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 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)

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.

Discover the thrill of cricket like never before, exclusively on HT. Explore now!

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:

Unlock a world of Benefits with HT! From insightful newsletters to real-time news alerts and a personalized news feed – it's all here, just a click away! - Login Now! Get Latest World News along with Latest News from India at Hindustan Times.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On