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WESTGATE ATTACK

A group of between 10 and 15 attackers opened fire and executed people after they threw grenades into Westgate shopping mall, in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, at midday, on Saturday 09/21/2013. The Westgate mall, owned by a Israeli businessman, hosts a lot of small shops and businesses, many of them of foreign ownership, international brands has restaurants, cafes, banks, a large supermarket and a cinema.. The mall is located in the North Western part of the city on the main Mwanzi Road. The Mall is of four floors, is a large compound and one of the foremost symbols of Kenya’s affluent classes. It opened in 2007. Witnesses said at least five gunmen – including at least one woman – first attacked an outdoor cafe. At first the shootout was believed to be a robbery and not a major hostages tacking crisis (see also – Nairobi 03.10.12).

The attack caused, most naturally, scenes of total chaos. The Kenyan army, who responded swiftly to the attack, has no experience in that kind of situation, which is extremely complicated and a tough challenge even to the most professional elite anti- terror units in the world. Furthermore the Kenyan Army is not equipped with the weapon and technology to cope with the situation. In the initial response of the police one of the gunmen was reportedly shot inside the building.

One witness told the AFP news agency that the gunmen spoke a foreign language, possibly Arabic or Somali. Another eyewitness said the attackers ordered all Muslims to leave the mall.

At about 21:00 local time, an al-Shabab Twitter account, which has subsequently been shut down, tweeted: “The Mujahideen entered Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf.”

At 23:00 local time Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the nation, saying at least 39 people had been killed – including some of his own family. The police also said that the remaining militants were believed to be barricaded inside the supermarket, which covers two floors.

After a chaotic shootout and exchange of gunfire over night Kenyan officials admitted, on Sunday 09/21/2013, that at least 68 people have been killed and 175 injured in the attack committed by militants. American, French, Dutch, South African, Indian and Canadian nationals are also among the foreigners confirmed killed along with a dual Australian-British national. The Kenyan army launched a second attempt to overcome the militants and to free as much as possible hostages, on Sunday 09/22/2013 evening. According to unconfirmed reports Israeli forces have joined Kenyan efforts to end the deadly siege, a security source said. Israel said they sent a special negotiation team, trained for such situation, to help the Kenyan forces with planning the strategy but said Israeli soldiers are not involved in the actual fighting. Although Kenyan’s military said late Sunday it had rescued “most” of the remaining hostages, the second attempt failed to bring the event to an end.

Abu Omar, a spokesman, for al-Shabab told Al Jazeera, on early Monday 09/23/2013, it carried out the attack in which they specifically targeted non-Muslims. Al-Shabab said on its new Twitter feed – after its previous one was shut down on Saturday – that Kenyan officials were asking the hostage-takers to negotiate and offering incentives.

Gunshots and loud explosions were heard from the mall as the Army resumed its efforts to takeover the mall on Monday 09/23/2013 noon.

Following a Twitter massage from al-Shabab praising the White Widow and boasted that she was with them, the Kenyan anti-terror unit experts believe Samantha Lewthwaite is, probably, one of the facilitators of the attack or even took part, herself, in the assault. The account listed specific names and home states of the Americans they said were on their side. Two of the purported American jihadists are allegedly from the St. Paul-Minneapolis, USA (see – Minneapolis Network ).

A Kenyan security official told reporters that Kenyan forces were receiving foreign assistance, namely from Americans and Israelis.
UK’s Foreign Office has confirmed that a British man has been arrested, on Monday 09/2/2013, in Kenya following the Westgate siege.

There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011 (see – Almadow Operation ).

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* Declaring the siege over, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said, on Tuesday 24/09/2013 night, five militants had been killed and 11 other suspects arrested. He also said six members of the security forces were among 72 people who had died. Despite the presidential announcement there is still disorder, confusion and conflicting reports about the real situation and the real number of casualties.
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Part of the mall collapsed and the clearing of the mall continues, the number of dead is expected to rise. Several bodies, including those of some attackers, are thought to be trapped under rubble after three floors of the building collapsed following a blaze.
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At least 18 foreigners are among the dead, including six Britons, as well as citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China.

NYPD ANALYSIS

The New York Police Department own in-depth analysis of the Westgate Attack they debunked much of what Kenyan authorities claim and doubt the 4 terrorists died in the collapsing building.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told media, on 12/10/2013, his investigators did not know “with certainty” how many people were involved, “but we believe there were only four shooters ” acted in teams of two, coordinating their movements via mobile phone.

The NYPD says a review of video footage and ballistics evidence shows they were carrying only “light” weapons such as AK-47 rifles and grenades. While carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition in magazines strapped to their bodies, the NYPD says the attackers were not wearing any form of body armor or carrying handguns. There were no heavy explosions. Smoke screens had not been created by setting mattresses and other materials on fire they said.

According to the NYPD confusion reigned as police – wearing no identification or markings – entered the complex, fully armed. They were quickly fired upon by Kenyan soldiers who had also been summoned to the scene. Among the dead was the police tactical response team’s commander. The terrorists sought to kill as many as they could and took no hostages. Only those who were able to recite Muslim prayers – and in once instance name the Prophet Mohammed’s mother – were allowed to go free.

The gunbattle to clear the mall lasted three days. But there is no evidence the terrorists were there beyond the first 12 hours. NYPD investigations indicate at least one of the attackers was wounded in the leg. But the fighters systematically destroyed CCTV cameras in order to cover their movements.

The actual attack only lasted six hours. After this, the NYPD report says the terrorists hid in a storeroom. Here, they prayed and tended to their wounded comrade. There is no evidence any attacker remained in the mall after 12:15am on September 22, the NYPD says.

 

* FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS – SEE – WESTGATE INVESTIGATION  

* Related topics;

 

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AL-JAZEERA                                                       BBC NEWS
MORE IN BBC                                                      THEAUSTRALIAN
YNET-NEWS                                                        MIRROR-U.K
THEEPOCHTIMES                                                WORLDNEWS
MORE ON BBC                                                    BBC REPORT
NEWS.COM.AUSTRALIA
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