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The Westgate Mall attack and Kenya’s national amnesia

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Eight years ago, on the morning of September 21, four young men, armed with automatic rifles and grenades charged into the Westgate Mall in the uptown Westlands district of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. They went on a rampage, killing 68 people and injuring hundreds more and sparking a traumatic four-day standoff with the Kenyan military.

What went on in the mall for those four days has remained a closely guarded state secret to date. Media investigations have shown that “the assault on the Westgate Mall lasted only a few hours, almost all of it taking place before Kenyan security forces even entered the building” and that by the time they did, “most of those who would escape had already escaped; most of those who would be wounded had already been struck; and most of those who would die were already dead”.

Yet, with the mall sealed off, for four days the country and the world were treated to an orchestrated performance of “fighting terror” replete with confusing and contradictory government updates, regular explosions and bursts of gunfire, as well as tales of fictitious “hostage” rescues and “terrorists” burning........

© Al Jazeera

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