Saturday, September 21, 2013

I saw five armed men and a woman: Officer

One of the lucky survivors at the Westgate Building Nairobi on September 21,2013 , were Gunmen took shoppers to hostage killing several people. PHOTO|William Oeri

One of the lucky survivors at the Westgate Building Nairobi on September 21,2013 , were Gunmen took shoppers to hostage killing several people. PHOTO|William Oeri  

By SAMWEL BORN MAINA Twitter: @bornmaina sborn@ke.nationmedia.com

A military officer who was inside the Westgate shopping mall narrated his ordeal as he tried to rescue shoppers inside.

“I was doing my shopping when I heard three gunshots outside. I shouted to those around me to lie down, this is a basic skill when dealing with such a situation,” Mr Frank Musungu, a Sergeant Major in the army, said.

According to Mr Musungu, more than five people, including one woman, entered the mall, shooting in the air and throwing the mall into a state of confusion.

He said the shots that were fired had a bigger impact than an ordinary G3 gun.

“They were not shooting to kill, they were shooting into the air to scare us away; I first thought that it was an ordinary robbery,” Mr Musungu said.

The officer said his attempt to negotiate with the assailants bore no fruit. “They did not listen to me, they were not talking, they were just shooting in the air,” he said.

An officer who was with Mr Musungu was shot after they identified themselves as officers. “He was shot and dropped his gun; I managed to carry him with me as I rushed him to an ambulance outside,” he said.

Mr Musungu described the assailants as heartless people who shot aimlessly. “One of them wrapped a white turban on his head. They were very young and the woman appeared to be lethal,” he added.

“They were very young but had no mercy.”

A worker inside the mall who identified himself as Jared spoke to the Sunday Nation on telephone from his hideout at 5.45 pm in the mall and narrated how he saw his workmate shot dead.

“She was at the cashier’s when these people came; we all went down and they confronted her, she did not object, she raised both her hands in the air as a sign she meant no harm but they shot her point blank. I saw her going down,” Jared told the Sunday Nation.

Jared said he managed to crawl his way to an enclosed room. “They do not know I’m here; if they do, I am dead meat as well. It is very cold here but I will hang in here until I am rescued,” he said.

AVOID SPECULATION

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi, who was among the first leaders to arrive at the scene, called on Kenyans to avoid speculation and wait for police investigations into the matter.

“I have confidence that the police will return normalcy here; I am deeply sorry for the families who have lost their loved ones and pray that the root cause of this will be established,” he said.

A security officer manning the gates at the mall said the assailants started shooting from the gate and gave them no room to do security checks.

“They started shooting in the air sending people scampering, they then went inside, we were outmanoeuvred” he said.

Security officers were last night still trying to rescue shoppers and traders and at the same time searching for the attackers whose number could not yet be verified.

Several other shopping malls around the city, including Nakumatt supermarkets, closed early yesterday over security fears.