As Kenyan security forces continue to battle Somalian Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, more stories have emerged, shedding light on the horrific events of the assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which have killed at least 62 people and left more than 170 wounded.
Gunmen – and, it is emerging, at least one female terrorist – stormed the mall, hurling grenades and firing indiscriminately with AK 47s as the building was packed with both locals and tourists enjoying the end of the weekend.
Chillingly, eyewitnesses have told of how the gunmen selected many of their victims deliberately – forcing people to prove whether or not they were Muslims by reciting Islamic prayers or by answering questions from the Qoran. They then executed those found to be non-Muslims, and allowed Muslim shoppers to escape.
Other escapees said that the terrorists mutilated the bodies of their dead victims, chopping off hands and even burning their faces to mask their identities.
But there are also stories of remarkable bravery.
One such story is that of four year-old Elliot Prior from Berkshire in Great Britain who, in an astonishing show of courage, confronted and even chastised one of the gunmen – and escaped with his life.
According to the Daily Mail, Elliot had been hiding with his sister Amelie and their mother Amber under a table in a grocery store, with Amber sheltering her children under her own body for an hour and a half, when they were discovered by the terrorists, one of whom shot her in the thigh.
But when the terrorists asked if there were any children still alive in the store, Amber stood up and answered in the affirmative, in the hope that they would be spared.
It was at that point that little Elliot confronted the terrorists, telling them that they were “bad men.”
Bizarrely, upon learning that Amber was of French origin, the gunmen began to plead with her for forgiveness, insisting that Islam “is not a bad religion” and urging her to convert.
“He told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said ‘do you forgive us? Do you forgive us?’,” she told The Independent newspaper.
“Naturally, I was going to say whatever they wanted and they let us go.”
Then, in an act which stood in stark contrast to the brutal massacre they had just committed, the terrorists handed the brother and sister chocolate bars before they fled with two other children, including a 12-year-old boy who initially refused to leave his dead mother behind.
Kenyan security forces are still battling terrorists as they move to clear the mall, amid claims that at least some of the attackers are citizens of western countries, including two Americans and a British woman.
In an interview with PBS Newshour, Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed said that “two or three” of the attackers were American, and that another was a British woman who had “done this many times before.”
That has raised speculation in the UK of the potential involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, a British convert to Islam and the widow of one of “7/7 bombers” who attacked London’s transportation system in July 2005.
Lewthwaite, also known as “The White Widow,” has been on the run in Africa for two years after she was accused of plotting to bomb tourist sites in Kenya, and has evaded capture on a number of occasions, mocking her pursuers on social media.
Mohamed claimed that the Americans were 18 or 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin, and lived “in Minnesota and one other place”.
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