Ten eye-witness accounts of Nairobi mall massacre
The stories of witnesses have caught the attention of the world's media. Channel 4 News has collected 10 stories of people who survived.
'They were very young but had no mercy'
Right at the start of the atrocity, Frank Musungu,
an army officer shopping in Westgate, saw the attackers enter the
building, as he told Kenyan paper the Nation. Mr Musungu also reports what several other eye-witnesses did - that he thought one of the attackers was a woman.
"They were not shooting to kill, they were shooting into
the air to scare us away. I first thought that it was an ordinary
robbery," Mr Musungu said.
The officer said his attempt to negotiate with the
assailants bore no fruit. "They did not listen to me, they were not
talking, they were just shooting in the air," he said.
An officer who was with Mr Musungu was shot after they
identified themselves as officers. "He was shot and dropped his gun. I
managed to carry him with me as I rushed him to an ambulance outside,"
Mr Musungu said.
Mr Musungu described the assailants as heartless people
who shot aimlessly. "One of them wrapped a white turban on his head.
They were very young and the woman appeared to be lethal," he added.
"They were very young but had no mercy."
Child freed after calling attacker 'bad man'
In one of the most surprising stories from the
massacre, one attacker let a child go after the child said he was a bad
man. The gunman reportedly handed him a Mars bar before letting him, his
mother, Amber and several other children leave the building. As
reported by the Sun and the Mail.
Amber told of her family’s terrifying escape from the
al-Shabaab militants. The film producer had been queuing to buy milk in
Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre when the militants struck.
She hid under a cold meat counter in the Nakumatt
supermarket for an hour and a half with her children beneath her, before
the militants finally found them and shot her in the thigh.
The children's uncle told the Sun: "They had a lucky
escape. The terrorists said if any of the kids were alive in the
supermarket they could leave. Their mother made the decision to stand up
and say 'yes'.
"My nephew started arguing with them and called them bad men. He was very brave."
After discovering the advertising producer was of French
origin, the men began to plead with her and claimed that the Muslim
faith "was not a bad one". "He told me I had to change my religion to
Islam and said 'do you forgive us? Do you forgive us?'," the mother told
"Naturally, I was going to say whatever they wanted and
they let us go." Bizarrely, the al-Shabaab attackers handed the children
Mars bars before they fled with two other children, including a
12-year-old boy who had at first refused to leave his dead mother. The
fate of 20 others who had taken refuge under the meat counter is
'I ran back into the mall to save my father'
Suveer Sachdeva was not in the mall when guns
started going off. But he ran back in as he heard the explosions to find
his father. He told Alex Thomson what happened.
I was washing blood out of my hair
Kamal Kaur was inside the Westgate shopping centre
in Nairobi when al-Shabaab militants struck. He tells Channel 4 News how
attackers shot at children, including one boy right next to her, and
how her pregnant friend was killed.
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'Throwing grenades like maize for chickens'
A journalist interviewing people coming out of the mall, heard how the gunmen threw grenades indiscriminately.
Bloodstained witness at #westgate in Nairobi tells me 'they were throwing grenades like maize for chickens'
2 eyewitnesses, one with blood on shirt tell me,
#westgate attackers were telling muslims to leave, asking who is
Locked in a storeroom
Faith Wafula worked as a part-time diaper saleswoman in Nakumatt, the big goods store. She told the Nation newspaper
how she and her colleagues locked themselves in a store room after
gunmen strafed the floor. When they were finally rescued, it took them a
long time to believe that their rescuers were actually the police.
"The lights kept going on and off, but business went on
as usual," she said. This was shortly followed by a mini-explosion which
sent everyone in panic mode before the attackers walked in.
According to Ms Wafula they first kept shooting in the
air and everyone was scampering for safety. She says four people were
shot on her floor, including two of her colleagues. The attackers
proceeded to another section leaving everyone hiding.
She says it took close to two hours before police came to their rescue. She says they were foreign officers.
She says the hostages who had been locked inside were reluctant to come down because "they were not the normal cops."
"We were expecting Kenyan police officers, so it took a
lot of persuading from the rescue officers to bring us because we were
not sure of their identity," she says.
They finally agreed to come down and were ushered out one by one by the rescue officers.
'Policeman shot in the stomach asked me to photo him'
A photo journalist from Reuters
was near the mall when the shooting started. He went inside with a
troop of police, one of whom got shot in the stomach. He left unharmed
after two hours. He recounts what he saw.
I saw this younger guy who was hit by shrapnel. His leg
was broken, but he wasn’t bleeding that heavily. I didn't want to move
him and make it worse. If I started helping, I could do something wrong.
I am not a doctor. I just tried to calm him down. I said, "The medics
are coming. You will be alright. You are OK."
I entered the mall and followed the police searching
room by room until we ended up on the ground floor where the supermarket
A policeman got shot in the stomach. He asked me to take
a picture of him screaming and asked me for help. I tried to help him
but I guess he was in shock or something because when I helped him up he
started firing his rifle into the floor. He almost shot me
accidentally. Then he dropped the weapon.
17 of us hid in a kitchen
Another survivor, Surajit Borkakyoty, told the BBC
it was "total chaos" as gunfire came from a higher level floor. He said
he and 20 others found themselves in the kitchen of a cafe, and moved
fridges and freezers to block the passageways.
"There's a coffee shop on the top floor of the mall, and
suddenly, all of a sudden, we started hearing gunshots on the ground
floor and the first floor and it suddenly turned into a war-like
"We ran towards the rooftop of the parking lot, adjacent
to the coffee shop. Suddenly someone started on that side as well so we
ran back into the café. It was total chaos, luckily we got inside a
cupboard of the coffee shop.
"After a while one of the boys in the coffee shop called to us 'Why don't you come out inside the kitchen?'
"So there were many people inside the kitchen. We shut
the doors and brought the big refrigerators. Me and wife - almost 17
people were there in a very small space. There were children there, they
were just crying.
"We were stuck for almost 2.5 hours. We could hear continuous gunfire it was like when you see war on the television."
'We hid in dental clinic'
Our International Editor Lindsey Hilsum had this report of a friend trapped in the mall with her children and how they survived by diving into a dentist's office.
One of my friends was in Westgate with her eight year
old daughter, paying the dentist when she heard gunshots. “I didn’t see
who was shooting but I saw people falling down dead,” she said. She
covered her daughter’s eyes and hustled her into the dental clinic,
where they locked themselves in, turned off the lights and hunkered down
for four hours, listening to gunfire, until they were rescued. On the
way out, she saw three bodies.
One of my friends was in Westgate with her
eight-year-old daughter, paying the dentist when she heard gunshots. "I
didn’t see who was shooting but I saw people falling down dead," she
She covered her daughter’s eyes and hustled her into the
dental clinic, where they locked themselves in, turned off the lights
and hunkered down for four hours, listening to gunfire, until they were
rescued. On the way out, she saw three bodies.
"I thought I had had a bad time until I realised that other people are in there still," she said. "Now I feel lucky."
They said a woman didn't look like a Muslim, and shot her
After reluctantly going Saturday shopping, one woman, Aisha, describes to the Nation
how she decided to watch a children's cooking competition on the roof
of the carpark. She survived by hiding behind a box in a tent with
children and other strangers.
She also describes how gunmen shot one woman dead
after she professed to be a Muslim but the gunman said she did not look
I saw the two figures coming up to the rooftop. They had
guns and it took me a moment to notice the grenades hanging from their
Their faces were uncovered, exposed to us as if they
almost didn’t care if we could identify them later. I immediately began
to suspect that I would not be leaving Westgate alive.
In that moment, the fear was devastating. When the
gunmen begun shooting, the crowd broke into screams. People started
running in panic, with little sense of direction. I was also jolted into
action. I ran into the tent that had acted as a kitchen for the
children and hid myself there.
At first, I thought they were shooting at random.
However, I soon noticed that people running and screaming were most
often the ones hit by the bullets. Amid the noise, I heard the gunmen
call out for the Muslims.
"If you are Muslim," they said, "you can get up and leave."
But it wasn’t that easy. Muslims had to prove their
faith. They had to recite verses from the Koran before they could be set
free. And even then, you could still lose your life. One lady, who said
she was a Muslim but did not "look like a Muslim" was shot.
I am not quite sure why I didn’t profess my religion. Perhaps it was out of fear. Perhaps it was out of a sense of defiance.
Hidden behind boxes and tables in the tent, strangers
became closer than friends. The gunmen must have known our location;
there were only so many places we could have hidden on the rooftop.
Nevertheless, we calmed each other, urged the children
to be quiet as if in our utter silence we could suddenly become
invincible. But despite our best efforts, some of the youngest children
still cried, instinctively aware of the danger.
[...] We must have been hidden for at least 20 minutes when I heard one of the gunmen receive a call on his mobile phone.
[...] A few minutes after he received the call, the
gunmen shot randomly on the rooftop and left. Looking back, I think
these last shots were meant to scare us more so that we would not move.
We were rescued shortly afterwards and as I walked
through Westgate, past the corpses, I felt helpless that I could not do
anything to stop this. It had only been about an hour since our ordeal
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