An upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya was the scene of a massacre as gunmen with AK-47s, body armor, and hand grenades stormed the facility. The shopping center was bustling with lunch patrons and is a hot-spot for wealthy residents and expatriates.
However, this wasn’t just your garden variety mass shooting. The attack squad, described by eye-witnesses as wearing black turbans, had a specific target in mind: non-Muslims. This is a fact that few of the mainstream outlets are reporting, and they certainly aren’t headlining it.
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.
Manish Turohit, 18, said he saw gunmen with AK-47s and vests with hand grenades on them inside the mall before he escaped to hide in a parking garage for two hours.
“They just came in and threw a grenade. We were running and they opened fire. They were shouting and firing,” he said after being marched out of the mall in line with about 15 people who held their hands in the air.
Rob Vandijk, who works at the Dutch embassy, said he was eating at a restaurant inside the mall when attackers lobbed hand grenades inside the building. He said gunfire then burst out and people screamed as they dropped to the ground.
It appears the attack began at the outdoor seating area of Artcaffe at the front of the mall, witnesses said.
Patrick Kuria, an employee at Artcaffe, said: “We started by hearing gunshots downstairs and outside. Later we heard them come inside. We took cover. Then we saw two gunmen wearing black turbans. I saw them shoot.” (source)
Official reports say that there were 5 assailants. Kenyan soldiers have been dispatched to help get the scene under control.
Police are currently engaged in an ongoing shop-by-shop sweep of the complex. “They have seven hostages, confirmed,” an officer told AFP. Kenyan soldiers were also deployed to take part in the operation to bring the shopping complex back under control.
Police helicopters circled over the building as sporadic gunfire could be heard more than two hours after the attack was launched. Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in central Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood.
Kenya’s interior minister said the mall shooting may be “an attack by terrorists.”
“It is a possibility that it is an attack by terrorists, so we are treating the matter very seriously,” Mutea Iringo, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Interior told Reuters.
Asked if foreign security services were involved in the operation to flush out the attackers, he said, “At this stage it has not become necessary yet.”
Nairobi police Chief Benson Kibue blamed the attack on terrorists, though he did not name a group. (source)
The Red Cross has reported that at least 22 people are dead and more than 50 have been injured and taken to the hospital as a result of the attack.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, earlier this year a militant group from Somalia, al-Shabaab, threatened Nairobi with an attack in retaliation for Kenya’s involvement in the Somali battles with Islamic insurgents.
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