Today, September 21, marks eight years since the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack which resulted in 71 deaths, including 62 civilians, five Kenyan soldiers, and four attackers. Approximately 200 people were, also, wounded in the attack.
The extremist Islam group Al-shabaab would later claim responsibility for the incident as retribution for Kenya’s military deployment in the group’s home country of Somalia.
The incident followed threats from Al-shabaab in late 2011 of attacks in Kenya in retaliation for operation Linda Nchi, a coordinated military operation in southern Somalia that was launched against the group.
Security officers at the mall. REUTERS| Siegfried Modola
In what has been lauded by Kenyans on social media as a show of resilience, the mall is slowly roaring back to life as business owners reoccupy the mall for business operations.
However, almost a decade later, details of what exactly happened in the four hours the attack lasted have remained unknown. In an article published on Al Jazeera, political cartoonist Patrick Gathaara writes that a planned official inquiry into the attack did not happen.
Nevertheless, two of the three suspects suspected of helping the masterminds of the attack were, in 2020, sentenced to 33 and 18 years in prison while the third suspect was acquitted.
Abdul Haji, lauded as the Westgate Hero, rescues a young girl. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
The attack had a significant impact on counter-terrorism efforts in Kenya. According to a tweet sent out today by the Counter Terrorism Policing Unit “Westgate terror attack prompted Kenya to recalibrate its counter terrorism infrastructure for the better with more focus on soft power. Citizen-police partnership is the game changer in the fight against terrorism.”
The National Police Service @NPSOfficial_KE also took to Twitter to commemorate the day with a thread of tweets showcasing their efforts in curbing a repeat of the same while at the same time mourning the lives that were lost on that day.
Feature image courtesy of Twitter