Monday, September 30, 2013
Posted by ME at 2:31 AM
A visibly shaken and terrified Vice President Ruto has for the first time spoken and revealed how Kenyatta forced him to attend the trials at the ICC even though in his heart he wanted to skip the trials. Various behind the scenes wiggling had come up with the consensus that both Ruto and Kenyatta should not attend the trials. But Kenyatta later on prevailed upon Ruto to attend the trials.
Emerging reports confirm that Uganda and Rwanda asked Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop his deputy William Ruto from flying to The Hague as his trial on charges of crimes against humanity kicked off last week.
Following his appearance at the ICC trials at the Hague, Ruto has come out strongly and condemned the manner in which Kenyatta betrayed him.
Speaking to members of his family and close friends, Ruto has lamented the fact that Kenyatta forced him to go to the Hague despite many African leaders urging the duo to boycott the trials.
“This man wanted to sacrifice me. But I took my chances and they have paid off” Ruto said. “He really thought I would be detained and was using me as a testing ground. But God is great. Ya Mungu ni makubwa.”
“By His Lord’s stripes I am going back home.” a determined but visibly shaken Ruto added. “Kusema ukweli, we should both have refused to come. But he wouldn’t hear of it.”
“Kikuyus!!” Mr. Ruto whispered to a Baringo MP… “I fear them.”
The request to skip the trials was tabled when President Kenyatta met Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo in Nairobi on September 8, two days before Mr Ruto flew out to the International Criminal Court.
President Kenyatta insisted on his deputy attending court, arguing that failure to appear before the ICC could trigger a warrant of arrest and “the argument of whether they are innocent would be lost.”
The request was part of the behind-the-scenes efforts by the African Union to stop the prosecution of President Kenyatta and his deputy on charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC in The Hague.
Mr Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang entered a “not guilty” plea to charges of murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution over the 2007/8 post-election violence that left 1,133 people dead and displaced 650,000 others.
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When Kenyan deputy president William Ruto appeared in the dock in The Hague on Tuesday it was a seminal moment for international justice. Yet Kenya’s outrageous, if unsurprising, decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court me...
Posted by ME at 12:56 AM
Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Lenku said the government had however been able to apprehend three suspected looters.
“We wish to affirm that government takes very seriously allegations of looting and that those found to have engaged in looting will be prosecuted,” Lenku warned.
He confirmed that most of the business owners at the mall had inspected their premises and reported that everything was intact.
The Cabinet Secretary called on anyone with information on looting at the mall to report to the police.
On the other hand, he revealed that one more suspect was arrested on Sunday in connection with the attack, bringing to nine, the number of people in custody.
Lenku however declined to reveal the nationalities of those arrested.
“As soon as investigations are complete we will update you with identities of the suspects,” adding that it was premature to release the details as it might prejudice the ongoing investigations.
The police have so far recorded statements from 156 witnesses concerning the attack.
Forensic investigators have also identified one of the vehicles used by the Westgate mall terrorists and recovered items that are providing crucial leads.
He maintained that the death toll stands at 67 and that the government had not received formal reports of missing persons from various non-governmental organizations involved in helping the victims of the attack.
He says the deceased include 57 Kenyans, two French, a Chinese, Ghanaian, Canadian, Korean, Australian, South African, Peruvian and a Dutch national.
“We urge Kenyans who may have missing persons who could have been at the mall at the time of the attack to report to the police. We also urge the humanitarian agencies to whom some people may have reported missing person to forward that information to the police,” Lenku insisted.
Concerning the travel advisory issued by the United States government on Saturday, Lenku condemned the action adding that it this stage it was not helping in the collective efforts against global terrorism.
“The advisory is uncalled for, unnecessary and unfriendly.”
Posted by ME at 12:48 AM
|Police Chief David Kimaiyo, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and NIS Director-General Michael Gichangi.|
By GEOFFREY MOSOKU and CYRUS OMBATI
NAIROBI; KENYA: Top security chiefs yesterday held crisis meetings over the Westgate Mall terror attack that left over 60 people dead, as questions lingered about the countryâs counter-terrorism and intelligence strategy.
The day-long meeting at Harambee House came against the backdrop of reports authorities had prior warning of a possible terror attack that was not acted on and which has triggered a blame-game.Â
However, when Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku addressed the media at 5pm yesterday, he declined to discuss purported leaked intelligence briefings suggesting security organs slept on the job, saying intelligence matters were confidential. Lenku said that nine suspects were in custody, held under counter-terrorism laws, but their identities or nationalities would not be revealed.
âItâs premature to release details now as that might prejudice on-going investigations,â he told the press conference outside Harambee House. He declined to shed more light on media reports that among those held is Briton Sharif Ahmed Abdirizak, 35, who was arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The reports said the suspect was attempting to leave the country after the attack, and was allegedly carrying maps of the Westgate Shopping Mall on his laptop.Â
Lenku said one of the cars used by the terrorists had been identified. He said forensic experts recovered crucial items inside the car, including an assortment of weapons used in the terror attack.
Lenku said police had so far taken witness statements from 56 people.
He dismissed reports that some of the attackers may have escaped using an underground tunnel saying security forces had secured the area and sealed off all possible escape routes.
He reiterated that the attackers were estimated to have been between 10 and 15, and that five of them had been killed by security forces.
Â Earlier, the security chiefs went into a crisis meeting at 9am, and continued until evening.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Rachael Omamo, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi, police boss David Kimaiyo, his deputies, National Intelligence Director General Michael Gichangi, CID Director Francis Muhoro and Interior Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo were among those present at the meeting.
At noon some members of the team hurriedly left with reports indicating that President Uhuru Kenyatta had summoned them to State House, Nairobi. They later returned to Harambee House to continue with the meeting. After the 5pm press briefing, the officials went back into Harambee House but it was unclear if the meeting progressed into the night.
The officials twice postponed the planned press briefing over circumstances that were not immediately clear. Initially the briefing was scheduled for 12.30 pm but it was pushed to 3 pm then to 4.30 pm and finally to 5 pm.
Investigations are ongoing into the four-day siege at the Westgate Mall, which began last Saturday morning when heavily armed terrorists stormed the crowded shopping complex, killing at least 61 people and injuring over 200.
Officials said more than 1,000 people were rescued. However, the mystery of some 71 people reported by the Kenya Red Cross as missing, and feared to have perished inside the mall, was still unresolved yesterday.
Lenkuâs position yesterday over the missing people perplexed journalists who wanted to know the fate of the 71. He asked those whose relatives were missing to report to the police and humanitarian agencies with the information to also share it with the police.
Surprisingly, Lenku insisted that the attackers had taken no hostages at the time Special Forces moved in.
The mystery deepened further after Kenya Red Cross officials said the government had taken over the list with the names of those missing.
President Kenyatta had said bodies, including those of terrorists, were buried under the rubble after three floors of the building collapsed.
Officials said investigators would take at least seven days to sift through the rubble in search of evidence and bodies and to conduct forensic tests.
Today, MPs conducting a parliamentary probe into the handling of the crisis will visit the scene of the terror attack.
Parliamentâs Administration and National Security and the Defence and Foreign Relations committees are undertaking the joint probe.
The team has put off a scheduled grilling of spy chief Gichangi so as to prepare comprehensive summons targeting top security chiefs. âWe are meeting on Tuesday to draw a timetable on when they are supposed to appear to explain the issue after which we will communicate to them and to the public,â said Ndungu Githinji, the chairman of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee.
Leaked National Intelligence Service situational reports claimed the National Security Council was briefed of possible terror attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa. Among those briefed on the terror threats were the army chief and Cabinet Secretaries of National Treasury, Interior, and Foreign Affairs.
Foreign agents, including the FBI from the US, investigators from Britain, Canada, Israel and Germany, are helping Kenyan authorities with investigations.
The teams have taken samples from five bodies thought to be of terrorists for forensic analysis in order to profile them.
The bodies are being kept at one of the mortuaries in Nairobi and none has been claimed so far.
Posted by ME at 12:46 AM
|Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangâula and his Siaya counterpart James Orengo dance during campaigns for Mr Cornel Rasanga, the ODM candidate in the Siaya gubernatorial by-election.Â [PHOTO: COLLINS ODUOR/STANDARD]|
By LAWRENCE ALURU and ISAIAH GWENGI
KENYA: Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga warned his opponents to write him off politically at their own peril, as he led ODM campaigns to defend the Siaya gubernatorial seat.
Odinga piled pressure on the government as he cited insecurity, rise in the cost of living and unemployment as pressing problems that need to be addressed urgently.
He led the ODM brigade in campaigning in Bondo, Rarieda and Siaya for their candidate, Cornel Rasanga, ahead of the October 17 by-election.
The ODM leader scoffed at attempts to impose an age limit for those running for president.
âAge doesnât matter so long as one has the necessary experience to lead the country,â Odinga said.
The National Movement for Democracy Advancement has lobbied for an amendment of the Constitution to bar anybody aged 70 and above from holding a seat as the head of the Executive, Legislature or Judiciary.
But Odinga, 68, said age does not matter since there had been older leaders who had successfully steered their nations to prosperity.
CORD leaders rallied the electorate to ensure ODMrecaptures the seat.
âCORD is being frustrated and we are going to make sure that this is not happening, especially here in Siaya,â Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama told a crowd at Pap Komenya grounds in Usenge, Bondo constituency.
Siaya County Senator James Orengo claimed the contest between Rasanga and his main challenger William Oduol is one involving Odinga.
In what he termed as âMakueni Reloadedâ, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangâula said it would be shameful for another party to win the Siaya seat.
âSiaya is our partyâs stronghold and we should not allow another party to win in the forthcoming by-election. We had 24 governors and if we are going to lose this one, we will become the laughing stock,â he said.
Odinga defended the nomination of Rasanga as theODM flag bearer.
The party had invited Oduol, Elisha Odhiambo and Carey Orege and they all promised that they were going to support whoever the party nominated, he added.
Odinga said Oduol was in ODM but when the ticket was given to Rasanga, he changed his mind to go back to the National Agenda Party of Kenya.
âWe found Rasanga to have committed no offence and that is the reason as to why we nominated him to vie for the seat,â Odinga said.
Others in the entourage were Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem MP) and area Women Representative Christine Ombaka.
The leaders addressed huge crowds in Usenge, Bondo, Rarieda and Siaya town where they called on the electorate to vote for Rasanga the same way Makueni people did for Mutula Kilonzo Junior.
Muthama urged the electorate not to humiliate the former PM by voting for another candidate other than Rasanga.
Rasanga caused laughter when he said that he was given a girl and headed to a house with her but somebody came knocking 30 minutes later.
âSomeone came knocking before I started talking to her and I realised four months later that she was pregnant. Should she be married off to another person yet I was the one with her in the house on that day?â he asked.
Wetangâula said Nyanza was Odingaâs zone and the electorate should cast their votes in favour of the Cord candidate.
The Siaya gubernatorial seat fell vacant following the High Court decision that nullified Rasangaâs victory and ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to hold a fresh election.
Officials campaigns began on September 21.
Three candidates have been cleared to contest the Siaya County Governor seat and three others for Kibwezi West Constituency by-election, also to take place on October 17.
Siaya County Returning Officer Jackline Osiemo issued clearance certificates to Oduol of the National Agenda Party of Kenya (NAP-K), Dr Noah Miguda Owanje an Independent Candidate and Rasanga of ODM.
In Kibwezi West, the Returning Officer Noor Gedi cleared Juliana Mumo Kisimbi (Pick), Patrick Mweu Musimba (an independent candidate) and Richard Kalembe Ndile (TIP).http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000094576&story_title=don-t-write-me-off-raila-tells-political-rivals
Posted by ME at 12:41 AM
40 Nigerian male students killed after suspected Islamist gunmen attack collegeUpdated Sunday, September 29th 2013 at 23:39 GMT +3
Suspected Islamist militants stormed a college in northeastern Nigeria and shot dead around 40 male students, some of them while they slept early on Sunday, witnesses said.
The gunmen, thought to be members of rebel sect Boko Haram, attacked one hostel, took some students outside before killing them and shot others trying to flee, people at the scene told Reuters.
"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," said one surviving student Idris, who would only give his first name.
"They came with guns around 1 am (2400 GMT) and went directly to the male hostel and opened fire on them ... The college is in the bush so the other students were running around helplessly as guns went off and some of them were shot down," said Ahmed Gujunba, a taxi driver who lives by the college.
Boko Haram, which wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has intensified attacks on civilians in recent weeks in revenge for a military offensive against its insurgency.
Several schools, seen as the focus of Western-style education and culture, have been targeted.
Boko Haram and spin-off Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru have become the biggest security threat in Africa's second largest economy and top oil exporter.
Western governments are increasingly worried about the threat posed by Islamist groups across Africa, from Mali and Algeria in the Sahara, to Kenya in the east, where Somalia's al-Shabaab fighters killed at least 67 people in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall a week ago.
Bodies were recovered from dormitories, classrooms and outside in the undergrowth on Sunday, a member of staff at the college told Reuters, asking not to be named.
A Reuters witness counted 40 bloody corpses piled on the floor at the main hospital in Yobe state capital Damaturu on Sunday, mostly of young men believed to be students.
The bodies were brought from the college, which is in Gujba, a rural area 30 miles (50km) south of Damaturu and around 130 miles from Nigerian borders with Cameroon and Niger.
State police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said he suspected Boko Haram was behind the attack but gave no details.
Thousands have been killed since Boko Haram launched its uprising in 2009, turning itself from a clerical movement opposed to Western culture into an armed militia with growing links to al Qaeda's West African wing.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern state in May, including Yobe, and ordered a military offensive to crush Boko Haram's insurgency.
There was an initial lull in the violence as Islamists fled bases in cities, forests and mountains. Then the militants began revenge attacks on schools, security forces and civilians believed to be helping them.
In July, suspected Boko Haram militants killed 27 students and a teacher at a school in Potiskum, a town about 30 miles from the site of Sunday's attack.
Several hundred people have died in assaults over the past few weeks. Some observers say the army offensive has only succeeded in pushing attacks away from well-guarded large towns and cities into vulnerable rural areas.
Boko Haram's insurgency is also putting pressure on the economy of Africa's most populous nation. Nigeria's security spending has risen to more than 1 trillion naira ($6.26 billion) per year, or around 20 percent of the federal budget. ($1 = 159.8 Nigerian naira)
Posted by ME at 12:34 AM
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who shopped with his wife Susan at Nakumatt Ukay – right next to Westgate – said the most important thing is for Kenyans to move on despite the fear and big losses suffered.
“As difficult as it is, we must get back to normal life. That is the only way we will show the people who attacked us that they have not dented and they have no capacity of denting our indomitable, pioneering, hardworking, resolute and positive Kenyan spirit,” he urged.
Kidero said as everyone was hurting and in shock, no one should allow the attack to continue to deter the goals and work ahead.
He further called for patience over the attack at the mall that so far had claimed 67 lives and injured dozens of others.
While he urged people to shun speculation over the attack, he said investigations are ongoing and once completed Kenyans will be furnished with the findings.
“During this time when people are hurt, a lot of things will be said, but let us give the security forces the opportunity to investigate and come to a conclusion which will enable them apprehend the perpetrators and punish them. Somebody will be responsible and the investigations will reveal. Let’s not speculate at this time or throw blame,” he pleaded.
Meanwhile, security at the Westgate mall remained tight even as people were allowed to pick their cars.
However, they had to present papers to prove ownership.
Outside the Westgate mall, Nakumatt staff held special prayers in remembrance of the 67 people who died in the attack.
According to Daniel Macharia, an employee of Nakumatt, the store lost three employees in the attack.
“We have set up a place where have set candles in remembrance of the people who perished and those injured. This is to console them and show the world that we are surely not going to relent but we are going to stand up and continue moving one and we are one,” he said.
Despite the loss of 67 people, Macharia believes Kenya conquered, as most of the people in the mall came out alive.
“We don’t give a chance to the devil. This service is to praise the Lord because of what he did. We believe the way the attack was planned was to make everything perish. But God made a way for so many people to be evacuated,” he asserted.
Inside the Westgate mall, teams of security officers including investigators and rescuers were going on with their probe.
|President Kenyatta meets supporters. His style of leadership has stunned Central’s political Old Guard. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]|
By FRANCIS NGIGE
Since President Uhuru Kenyatta took power in May, he has confounded friends and foes in relation to his preferred leadership style.
His day-to-day running of government has baffled even his closest associates, a source close to State House confided in The Standard on Sunday.
Unlike his predecessors who kept their very close friends in the inner sanctum of state power (commonly referred to as the kitchen Cabinet), Uhuru has taken a different route.
For starters, Deputy President William Ruto is actively involved in the day-to-day running of government, making it extremely difficult for Uhuru’s bosom political allies to influence governance decisions.
According to multiple sources, Uhuru and Ruto have worked out a relationship that leaves no room for self-interested political allies and hangers on to infiltrate and influence governance of state affairs. According to governance consultant Prof Peter Kagwanja, the ciama shia athuri (council of elders), has no place in Uhuru’s scheme of things.
“The deputy President is part and parcel of the presidency. As you know, Ruto is even younger than Uhuru and he is, therefore, part of the generational change. The leaders we have had previously surrounded themselves with their age-mates who constituted the kitchen Cabinet – ciama shia athuri (council of elders) – who ensured that their will prevailed,” Kagwanja said.
Kagwanja said Uhuru’s decision to disregard the old guard in the former President Kibaki’s administration and shore up a new team, was clear indication that he wanted to present himself to Kenyans as his own man.
But former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro disagrees, arguing that Uhuru’s governance has not shifted from the old ways.
“The change is just physical. Ideologically, Uhuru is as old fashioned as the old guard in Kibaki’s kitchen Cabinet. From what the government has done in the months it has been in office, we don’t see any change,” said Kihoro known for his fiery brand of politics.
Kihoro, who was constantly at loggerheads with Kibaki, said Uhuru has not shown any will to break from the past “despite changing a few faces in the public service”.
“Ask anyone and they will tell you that economy should drive politics. What is there in the budget to show economic reforms being undertaken by this government? This is like Kibaki’s – there is no change in the way of doing things,” said Kihoro.
Our State House source said the president and his deputy consult on daily basis either on phone or through meetings.
“The president is against political patronage and would rather call individual governors, senators, MPs or even County Assembly members to consult about an issue than listen to people who often refer to themselves as close allies,” said an official conversant with Uhuru’s modus operandi.
In his Central Kenya back yard, Uhuru has chosen to work with a new crop of individuals slowly edging out the old guard associated with his predecessor Mwai Kibaki.
With the dynamics slowly changing in the new regime, the President appears to have new lieutenants. The new kids on the block that are said to have close contact with Uhuru include Cabinet Secretaries Michael Kamau and Anne Waiguru. His other ally is former PS Joseph Kinyua, who is now the Chief of Staff and Head of Civil Service. The three are said to have the President’s ear.
Having served the previous administration as permanent secretary, Kamau’s experience has put him a cut above the rest and is
often seen with Uhuru in public. The Transport Cabinet Secretary who hails from Naromoru in Nyeri seems to have eclipsed other leaders from region who have previously wielded immense power.
In the Kibaki government, then Kieni MP Dr Chris Murungaru rose to become one of the most powerful ministers in the government. Being from Kibaki’s Nyeri back yard, Murungaru called the shots and was regarded as one of the most influential figures in the government.
He was however to fall disgracefully after he was adversely mentioned in the Anglo-leasing scandal that rocked the Narc government.
Having been swept aside by voters in 2007 and this year’s elections, Murungaru is yet to regain his political footing.
Since then, a lot has changed in the political scene with Uhuru coming up with a different line-up.
And Kihoro sees Kamau as one of the key regional pillars of the Jubilee government.
He describes Kamau as one of the most competent technocrats appointed by Uhuru in the Cabinet.
“There are people in that Cabinet who do not carry any clout. I think it’s only people like Kamau who have proved to be real trench fighters,” said Kihoro, adding that, “Kamau is a workaholic and a person who knows the grassroots well. This works well for the government. I think I can describe him as an asset for this government.”
Another individual said to be close to Uhuru is Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi.
Muturi’s friendship with Uhuru dates back to the old Kanu days when he was an MP.
“He is very close to Uhuru and they regularly consult on national matters,” said a State House source.
Apart from former Treasury permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua whom he retained as his economic adviser, Uhuru has chosen a new crop of leaders to head crucial departments ignoring some of Kibaki’s trusted lieutenants.
Some Kibaki trusted allies like former Transport minister Amos Kimunya and former Finance minister Njeru Githae, former permanent secretaries Thuita Mwangi, Patrick Nyoike, Karega Mutahi and Cyrus Njiru were overlooked when Uhuru formed the government.
Cabinet Secretary Francis Kimemia and Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo were retained to “ensure a smooth transition”.
But what has surprised many is the open door policy that Uhuru has adopted in his operations allowing different opinions from people instead of relying on his close allies to make decisions. “I think thus far Uhuru has shown his statesmanship. He has not made rash decisions but governs through consultation. I think this is the way to go,” said Mwea MP Peter Gitau.
Gitau said members of parliament have a good working relationship with the president and his deputy as a result of constant consultation with them.
Prof Kagwanja says the paradigm shift seen in Uhuru’s government is as a result of the new Constitution and the changing dynamics of politics. He says the change in leadership has not only been in the national leadership but has been replicated in the grassroots.
“It is instructive to note that in Uhuru’s Central Kenya back yard, a lot of young people have assumedleadership positions. I think the generational change — itwika as it is known in Kikuyu — has already happened mostly in Central Kenya,” says Kagwanja.
Most of the leaders from Central Kenya feel that with generational change the local politics has also changed and most of them find it easier “to enjoy power”.
Change of style
Nyeri MP Priscilla Nyokabi who is among the youngest crop of legislators from the region said leaders have already noticed the change of leadership style of Uhuru. “We are very happy as leaders that there is nothing like a kitchen Cabinet in this government. We consult regularly with the president,” said Nyokabi.
She said leaders are buoyed by the fact that they belong to the same generation with the President and his deputy. “We feel we are at par and speak on the same wavelength. If you look at the people who have the president’s ear, they are young people who have new ideas. The days that moneyed individuals who belonged to the ‘kitchen Cabinet’ used to intimidate people are long gone, we are basically in one generation,” the MP says. Nyokabi, 35, said she finds it easy talking to Uhuru as opposed to the way she would feel talking to Kibaki.
“I think Kibaki was the last of the old order, we have moved to the digital generation. There were old men in the previous regime who felt that the youth were to be seen not heard,” said Nyokabi.
Mr Kanini Kega, another youthful MP from Uhuru’s backyard was full of praise for the new government.
“The new constitution brought a new order of doing things and Uhuru has perfected this art of consultation,” said Kanini.
He said the good working relationship between the President and his deputy has ensured there are no room for hangers-on in the corridors of power.
More by this Author
Did the masterminds of the Westgate terror escape within an hour of launching the attack? Could the terrorists who remained behind to continue the senseless killing and repulse security forces also slip away unnoticed?
And what is the fate of the hostages thought to have been held in the siege? What about the destruction of the mall, did the military bomb it? And who looted the shops?
These are some of the hard questions that Kenyans are seeking answers to as sources reveal new accounts that have not been formally released by the government, further intensifying the mystery that surrounds the four-day siege.
Multiple sources, including some police officers who made the initial response to the distress call, confirmed that the first group of terrorists may have escaped within an hour into the attack.
Some are said to have changed their clothes, dropped their weapons, and ran out alongside terrified civilians. The government has repeatedly denied that any of the attackers escaped despite eyewitness accounts and confirmation by police officers, who spoke to the Sunday Nation in confidence.
REMAIN UNACCOUNTED FOR
The terrorists believed to have been left behind also remain unaccounted for — days after the siege ended. This brings to question the exact number of those involved in the deadly assault.
On Monday, as the military launched what was described as the “final assault” to take back the mall, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku said there were between 10 and 15 terrorists inside holding at least 30 hostages. More than 1,000 people were said to have been evacuated.
Later, Mr Lenku announced that five terrorists were killed after the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) took over the building on Tuesday. However, he remained tight-lipped on the whereabouts of the bodies and the identity of the terrorists. Also unclear is the fate of the remaining terrorists, who should be at least 10 based on the figures provided.
“Five suspected terrorists were killed during the operation and the ongoing forensic investigations will ascertain their identities. When complete, these investigations will answer the questions being raised about their nationalities and gender,” said Mr Lenku.
The government is also yet to release details of a suspected terrorist, who reportedly died in hospital from bullet wounds last Saturday, a few hours after the attack began.
Fresh details about how the remaining terrorists could have escaped further deepen the mystery. Security officials who spoke to the Sunday Nation suspect the al-Shabaab killer gang that repulsed an elite military squad may have escaped through an underground tunnel that connects the mall and an adjacent building — about 100 metres away.
“The tunnel is big enough for an adult to walk through comfortably,” said our source, who declined to be named for his own safety.
The identity of the attackers also remains a grey area with conflicting reports about the involvement of a woman.
Mr Lenku initially denied a woman was part of the attackers, but he later admitted the possibility of British fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite, nicknamed the “White Widow” or “Dada Mzungu” (White Sister), leading the attack, after his Foreign Affairs counterpart Amina Mohammed made the claims in an interview with a US TV station.
Interpol has now issued a “red alert” notice for the capture of the “White Widow” at the request of the Kenyan authorities. The woman is, however, not seen in the CCTV footage of the attack viewed by the Sunday Nation. But some eyewitness accounts indicate a woman was leading the terrorists.
Latest intelligence reports seen by the Sunday Nation show that the mastermind of the Westgate massacre is suspected to be a 50-year-old Kenyan, Abu Sandheere — an associate of slain Al-Qaeda leader Fazul Abdulla.
At least 67 people, including six security officers, are said to have died in the attack while 175 are recorded to have been injured. It is suspected more bodies are buried under the rubble — something the government does not seem keen to acknowledge.
Even then, the puzzle of missing persons has left more unanswered questions. Red Cross figures show that at least 61 people have been reported missing.
But Mr Lenku said: “According to police records, there are no formal or official reports of missing persons who could have been at the mall during the time of the attack.”
The destruction of Westgate, including the collapse of a section of the building, has raised further questions as experts told the Sunday Nation that it must have been caused by a “huge explosion”.
On Monday, the Interior minister explained that billowing smoke was from burning mattresses lit by the terrorists to distract the security forces. However, sources within the military later said the fire was started by the Kenyan security forces.
When the final onslaught was launched on Monday, it was confirmed the terrorists may have been holding some hostages. However, after the siege ended on Tuesday, there was no information on the fate of the hostages.
Instead, Mr Lenku talked of an “insignificant number” of bodies — a reference that stirred outrage on social media.
Retired military captain Simiyu Werunga said the terrorists either bombed the building or KDF was responsible for the explosion.
“Booby traps cannot bring down a building and neither can ordinary rifles. It requires extra firepower to do that. Probably there were bombs and when these guys (terrorists) felt they were being cornered they exploded the place.
The other scenario is the military did it, because we are talking of Special Forces who use fire power superior to rifles. But we cannot be sure because we didn’t see them,” he said.
Capt (rtd) Werunga said besides bombs, the explosion could have been caused by rocket propelled grenades. His views were supported by two other security experts, who cannot be named because they are serving officers and cannot comment on such sensitive matters.
According to Capt (rtd) Werunga, the terrorists had enough time to assemble improvised explosive devices and make bombs.
“The security officers gave them enough time to do it, bearing in mind that whatever they required had allegedly been brought to the building before they struck. From Saturday to Monday, that was enough time. If so, they must have strapped them from pillar to pillar. One explosion would trigger off the next and so on,” he added.
Another security officer indicated that Nakumatt supermarket and chemists within the mall provided perfect ingredients to make a bomb.
Reports of confusion during the operation have also raised questions on coordination during such attacks. An elite police unit drawn from the Recce squad of the GSU had apparently pinned down the terrorists on Saturday before KDF arrived.
This changeover allowed the terrorists to regroup and in the confusion, led to the shooting of a GSU commander. The mission was effectively taken over by KDF chief Julius Karangi even though Inspector-General of police David Kimaiyo was nominally in charge.
Some people who entered the building after the siege was over have also said that Automated Teller Machine had been vandalised, probably with explosives, and money stolen. Inside the banks, it was reported that some safes had been tampered with by force. However, the military has denied the claim. (See separate story).
On Friday, Mr Lenku said those who operated business in the mall had been allowed access to take inventory of their property.
The BBC spoke to Ms Irene Anyango, manager of a jewellery shop at Westgate, who claimed that 90 per cent of her stock had gone missing.
“It’s not the mall you used to see... things are spoiled, glasses are broken, everything is everywhere,” the BBC quoted her as having said.
Forensic and ballistic experts —including some from US, Israeli, Britain, Germany and Canada — are combing through the rubble to establish the nature of weapons used as well as identity of attackers and hostages.
The number and identity of those arrested has also been contradictory. Last week, there were reports that at least 11 people were in custody, including a Briton arrested at the airport. No evidence has so far been found to link him with the attack. Three had, however, been released.
Well placed security sources said only two suspects were arrested in the mall. One of them, Mr Gitonga Ali, is being treated at the Forces Memorial Hospital while the other is said to have died from gunshot wounds at the Aga Khan Hospital.
Mr Lenku said police were holding eight suspects as they sought to unmask the faces behind the worst terror attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in which more than 200 people died.
Pathologists are expected to begin work at the destroyed mall on Monday when it is expected the forensic experts would have finished combing through for evidence. “Westgate mall remains a scene of crime and access remains limited,” said Mr Lenku.
Reports that hostages held by the terrorists were tortured have been confirmed, but what really happened remains a mystery.