Nairobi attack: horror tales emerge as siege ends
Witnesses reveal terrible scenes of dead children, sexual abuse at gunpoint, and mutilated bodies
AS KENYAN officials claim the Nairobi shopping centre siege is over, more horror stories are emerging from the attack that killed more than 60 people. Explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard from inside the Westgate shopping centre today but officials say that all hostages are now free and the Kenyan military has regained control of the building from al-Shabaab militants. Witnesses have been coming forward with terrible stories from the four-day siege.
Bodies mutilated: One security officer said the shopping centre looked like an "abattoir" half an hour after the attackers stormed the building on Saturday. The militants reportedly burned their victims’ faces and removed their hands in an attempt to conceal their identities. Bodies were also piled against the main door to stop rescue teams from entering.
Muslims spared: The attackers reportedly told Muslims they could leave, carrying out basic tests such as asking them to recite the Koran. Those who failed were executed, including children. One witness told the BBC he was released after showing his ID with a Muslim-sounding name, but an Indian man standing next to him was shot dead when he could not name the prophet Mohammed's mother.
Sexual abuse: One woman said she was sexually abused at gunpoint in front of young hostages. She was shot in the shoulder and her child was killed, according to the Daily Mail. She spoke to her husband, who was outside the shopping centre, several times by telephone, but he then heard nothing from her for several hours.
Lack of communication: Many people were able to tweet, text or call friends and relatives from inside the mall on Saturday but by nightfall batteries were dead. Officials warned families on the outside not to call missing relatives amid reports that the attackers had shot a hostage whose mobile phone rang. Relatives therefore had little way of knowing if their loved ones were alive.
Hiding places: Witnesses have described how they desperately hid around the shopping centre to avoid being hurt or killed. Store managers ushered people into their shops and hurriedly pulled down flimsy metal shutters. Others found safer hiding spots, such as the thick-doored vaults in several bank branches. Some hid in dark cinema theatres with lockable doors or the stitching room of a supermarket’s upholstery section. Many who were stuck on the main concourse played dead.
Children shot: The terrorists appeared to give little thought to killing or injuring children during the attack, with some young people shot in the face and chest. British businessman Louis Bawa is today mourning the deaths of his wife, Zahira, and eight-year-old daughter, Jennah. Another British father said his wife, who had shielded their children from bullets, was having surgery while his children were left bewildered by their experience. "They wanted to see their mother," he told the Daily Telegraph. "They also wanted to know how much blood a person can lose before they die." ·