alexa Kenya Westgate massacre: developments one year on - Daily Nation

Kenya Westgate massacre: developments one year on

Wednesday September 17 2014

The Westgate Mall on September 15, 2014. PHOTO

The Westgate Mall on September 15, 2014. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AFP
By AFP
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One year after Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants stormed Nairobi's Westgate Mall, killing at least 67 people in a four-day siege that began September 21, multiple questions remain.

Here is an update on investigations and developments:

CASUALTIES

The official toll is 67 victims. Western officials suggested as many as 94 could have died, but forensic experts say evidence based on body parts matches the toll of 67.

Security-camera footage, as well as bodies at the morgue, provide no evidence to back up gruesome media reports of torture, nor that hostages were ever held.

ATTACKERS

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Security cameras show only four attackers, not the dozen that officials reported during the siege. All four are believed to have died inside the mall.

Al-Shabaab said they were suicide commandos, but the group has never confirmed directly that they died, and no video or statements from the attackers have been released.

However, forensic experts say the bodies of four suspected attackers were found. Two have been named.

A fierce fire broke out on the third day of the attack, after a rocket was fired at the gunmen, and a large part of the building collapsed.

WHO WERE THE GUNMEN?

Two alleged attackers were named in court documents as 23-year-old Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, who had spent time in Norway, and Mohammed Abdinur Said.

All were reportedly ethnic Somalis.

They were armed with AK-47 rifles and grenades, not the heavy machine guns initially reported.

TRIALS

The trial of four men accused of helping the gunmen opened in January in Nairobi.

The suspects — Hussein Hassan Mustafa, Mohammed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar and Adan Mohammed Abdikadir — are accused of providing support to the gunmen. All deny the charges.

The trial continues on September 23.

SOMALIA STRIKES

In early September, US air strikes killed Al-Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, who praised the Westgate attack and vowed to bring "rivers of blood" to Kenya.

US special forces raided southern Somalia in October 2013 hunting Al-Shabaab commander Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as "Ikrima". They missed their target.

In August, Somali government forces and African Union soldiers, including Kenyan troops, launched "Operation Indian Ocean", a major offensive in southern Somalia aimed at seizing key ports from Al-Shabaab and cutting off multimillion-dollar exports of charcoal.

AL-SHABAAB THREAT

Al-Shabaab insurgents have lost almost all towns in Somalia, but since the Westgate attack they have launched a series of brazen attacks inside Somalia, including on the parliament and presidential palace.

The extremists have also claimed responsibility for a series of deadly raids on Kenya's coastal region, as well as a bomb attack in a restaurant in Djibouti, which, like Kenya, is part of the AU force in Somalia.

Ugandan police last week arrested a suspected Al-Shabaab bomb cell, whose members were believed to have been planning a new Westgate-style attack.

'WHITE WIDOW'

Despite witness reports, there is no sign on security-camera footage of a female attacker. At the time, there was widespread speculation of the involvement of a British woman dubbed the "White Widow", 30-year-old Muslim convert Samantha Lewthwaite.

Kenyan police say they have lost the trail of Lewthwaite, subject of an Interpol "red notice" warrant for her arrest.