In Nairobi, Kenya, 16 gunmen entered the upscale Westgate shopping mall, frequented by wealthy Kenyans, tourists, and U.N. workers, on September 21. The attack took the lives of 61 civilians and six members of security forces. Close to 200 were wounded.
Al-Shabab rebels, a Somalia-based group with links to al-Qaida, claimed it carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia. Al-Shabab is a splinter group of those that attempted to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia in 2006. A spokesman for al- Shabab, Ali Mohamud Rage, said the attack was just a taste of what the organization will do if Kenya does not bring its troops home.
The militants stormed the mall from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians until their control of the building was established. The siege lasted over 60 hours. Among the dead were many Kenyans, including the President’s nephew, and several foreigners as well, including six Brits, four Indians, and two Canadians. The attack has been described as the worst act of terrorism in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1998.