On Sept. 21, Kenya was met with a terrible tragedy at one of the country’s largest commercial malls, Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-Islamic based al-Qaeda group who claimed responsibility for the attacks, held innocent shoppers hostage through the following Tuesday.
As of Friday, Sept. 27, 72 bodies had been discovered, over 175 people were injured and there are still many more trapped under the rubble. The mall attackers even tortured some of hostages: they cut off hands, noses and hung some of their victims.
President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta says that some of his close relatives were included among the dead.
Three floors of the mall collapsed, trapping many bodies. A terrorist’s body was among those trapped. Five other terrorists were shot and killed, and 11 other suspects have been arrested.
Nairobi senator Mike Sonko sent out a warning to the security services of a potential attack three months prior to the tragedy at Westgate Mall.
A Twitter account that supposedly represents Al-Shabaab posted numerous messages during the time of the attacks, claiming that the attacks were simply “retribution” for the crimes of Kenya’s military forces.
The Twitter account was blocked soon after.
This attack could very well be the beginning of a series of conflicts in Kenya: one of the posts claimed that Al-Shabaab wanted to “shift the battleground and take the war to their land.”
Spokesperson of Al-Shabaab Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage promised more “black days” for Kenya if they do not withdraw their troops from Somalia and threatened that this attack was only “a taste” of what they could do.
Right now, the big question is how Al-Shabaab was able to pull off an organized attack when the group supposedly suffered a major setback by its recent losses in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab lost its ground in early 2012 when they squabbled with Al-Qaeda over the union.