Kenyans still shiver when they recall the deadly Westgate attack in September of 2013.
Philemon Langat says it’s difficult to forget the day which left a trail of death and destruction, a day that left him traumatized to date.
The Al-Shabaab orchestrated Siege lasted for several hours and claimed the lives of 71, among them civilians and army men.
Earlier that morning, Philemon had been preparing for an official business trip to Kampala, Uganda. “I was told that the forex bureau at the Westgate mall, had better rates” he explains.
“As I walked into the then Nakumatt Supermarket to grab a bottle of water and a few other personal effects, I heard a loud bang, someone was down a few yards from the mall’s entrance”.
“Two masked men wielding long rifles and with fully stashed bullet belts around their abdomens stood there. I didn’t wait to see what would happen next”.
“What followed was loud explosions (the grenade kind), amplified gunfire, crying and wailing mostly from the women and children outside the supermarket, for some time I assumed it was another armed robbery. I was right between the tools aisle and by a pillar now inside Nakumatt.
“I had to craw to the nearest exit that led to a staircase and to the upper floor where I found approximately two hundred more people crammed, some already wounded by gunshots and bleeding profusely, this was going to be our hideout for the next three hours”
“I was devastated, this wasn’t how I had envisioned my death to be like, I tried calling my expectant wife to give her my last regards, but the network was so poor. I only managed to reach her clearly when I switched over to my Safaricom line”.
The Westgate Mall attack is just one among the many attacks that the terror group has carried out in the country since the Kenya Defense forces set foot in Somalia following a UN resolution.
Soon after the attack, Kenyans from all walks of life volunteered to donate blood and approximately three hundred thousand dollars (27 million) worth of aid money was raised via an MPESA rate-free playbill to support the victims.
In Contrast, over seven hundred Kenyan citizens have lost their lives and hundreds more injured following Al-Shabaab attacks in the country with numerous cases being recorded in Lamu, Mandera and KDF bases in Somali.
Below is a list of terror-related attacks since Kenya stepped its foot in Somalia. It is not conclusive.