After the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, 39 people are still missing on top of the 67 people the Kenyan government reported dead from the attack and four day long siege.
“The operation is now over,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told his people in a televised national address. “We have ashamed and defeated our attackers.”
Junior Natalie Haggard, majoring in elementary and early childhood education said this would be a terrifying experience if it happened around Eastern Michigan University.
“The idea that someone would attack our mall, I would be worried about coming to school or just driving around in general,” she said. “I’d probably stay locked in my house.”
According to the BBC, the attack started at midday when Al Shabaab attackers entered through the front entrance and the parking structure; attacking shoppers with guns and grenades and taking hostages in a movie theater and small casino. Kenyan special forces and police entered the building an hour later and engaged the terrorists in a fire fight that lasted overnight.
Sunday, 10 to 15 terrorists were still inside the mall. Five militants were killed by Kenyan security forces, who themselves lost six men. The Kenyans have also arrested nine people in connection with the attacks.
“I’m not really surprised,” said Sonia Ritho, an EMU student from Kenya. “Well, I am surprised that it happened but not it happened there. The Somalians are not really so friendly.”
The Somali terrorist organization, Al Shabbaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Shabbaab said they attacked this suburban shopping mall in retaliation for the Kenyan’s government’s involved in Somali affairs. Somalia has been in a state of civil war since 1991 and the Kenyans have been helping the central Somali government for years.
Ritho said she doesn’t support the Kenyan army’s operations in Somalia.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Ritho said.
Mark Wesley, Director of EMU Emergency Management said the key characteristic of this attack is violent individuals intent on killing people.
“It was not a hostage situation in the sense of the terrorists taking hostages to negotiate terms and then releasing the hostages,” he said. “The attack was meant to kill people.”
Wesley said one of the best practices to coping with violent situations is to be aware of surroundings and all possible dangers.
“Students should understand how information, events and their actions will impact the outcome of an event,” Wesley said. “EMU encourages all students to take advantage of the text alerting service so that when an incident happens, they have information to make assessments and decisions.”
“Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States,” Wesley said. “Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.”
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