Dozens die as Islamic militants attack Kenyan shopping mall

Civilians who had been hiding in the Westgate mall in Nairobi are led to safety by armed police. Photograph: Jonathan Kalan/AP

Civilians who had been hiding in the Westgate mall in Nairobi are led to safety by armed police. Photograph: Jonathan Kalan/AP

Horror.  The news has been littered with accounts of similar incidents in different countries over the past months.  We remember 9/11 yet these incidents will disappear from our memories as the headlines move on.  A life is a life is a life.  Is life so much ‘cheaper’ or ‘less memorable’ because it is in a less familiar country or an alien culture?  I’m sure that if we count all the lives lost in these atrocities they will far outweigh 9/11.  Time to remember them perhaps.

 

Westgate Mall

Nairobi.
Westgate Mall.
Hell’s unleashed.
Grenade-vested,
al-Shabaab attack.
AK47s splice the air-conned cool of a shopper’s day,
slice through shop-fronts,
shatter glass whose sparkling shards
wink from limpid pools of blood
of dead and dying.

Run, run, run for your life.
Heads down crawl, weave, duck, hide.
Hide inside back-store rooms,
vaults, gloomy service hallways,
anywhere, anywhere
away from eyes of al-Shabaab.

Sssshh, quiet, don’t make a sound.
Suppress the pounding heart,
the whimpers, screams, the cries,
the stabbing fear of being found.
Hear the explosions.
Smell Chanel and cordite scent.
Grenades that blast the mannequins,
the silken lingerie,
grenades that rip apart the bones, the guts,
the skin, the heart
of all that once was safe.
The Westgate Mall,
Nairobi.

21st September 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  Dozens die as Islamic militants attack Kenyan shopping mall.”  Shoppers, expatriates and rich Kenyans fled in any direction that might be safe: into back corners of stores, back service hallways and bank vaults.  Over the next several hours, pockets of people poured out of the mall as undercover police moved in.  Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks, a spokesperson claiming the atrocity was in response to the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia: “The attack at Westgate Mall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders,” the account stated.  Kenya has been braced for an attack of this kind since it controversially intervened in the war against al-Shabaab in Somalia by sending an expeditionary force in 2011.  Since then Kenyan troops have succeeded in expelling the jihadists from the southern Somali port city of Kismayo and installing a former warlord friendly to the government in Nairobi.

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