Tuesday, September 24, 2013 (11:20 pm)
By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)-- At least scores of Christians were believed to be among those killed after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared an end to a four-day standoff with Islamic militants, who attacked a shopping mall and very specifically targeted non-Muslims.
In televised remarks the president said his African nation had "triumphed over the terrorists", though even he acknowledged that 61 civilians and six soldiers were among the dead. There were at least 200 people injured and 63 missing.
The shooting-and-grenades-throwing militants of the al-Shabab group began their siege at the Westgate Mall Saturday, September 21, boosting on online social networking service Twitter that they singled out non believers for execution.
The militants identified non-Muslims by asking their captives either to name Prophet Muhammad’s mother or to recite the shehada, the Muslim profession of faith.
Those who could do so, Kenyan or not, were released, witnesses said. Hostages who could not, or refused to abandon their faith in Christ, were killed. Reports said Chinese, Indians and Westerners were also among the dead.
LAUGHING AT EXECUTIONS
In one tweet monitored by BosnewsLife the group said it was pleased to execute the 'Kuffars' (unbelievers in Islam) after they failed to name the Prophet Mohammed's mother. They also threatened to carry out even more deadlier attacks.
While the mall is reportedly Israeli-owned and Kenyan forces are a crucial part of the African Union forces fighting al-Shabab within Somalia, the attack was aimed at non-Muslims, adding to concerns among Christians about growing Islamic extremism in the region.
And after Kenyan soldiers finally managed to enter the complex, the carnage became clear. President Kenyatta told his nation to prepare for the worse as many more bodies, including those of the militants, were believed to be in the rubble of the building after three stories of the mall collapsed during the final push.
Kenyatta praised Kenyans for staying united during days of horror and confusion.
“Fellow Kenyans, we have been badly hurt and feel great pain and loss, but we have been brave, united and strong," he said in emotionally charged remarks. However "Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed,” he added.
THREE DAYS MOURNING
The president declared three days of mourning Kenya tries to come to terms with escalating acts of terrorism in a nation that was long seen as a beacon of stability and a favorite tourist destination in Africa.
There had been warnings that shopping malls frequented by middle-class Kenyans, including Westgate Mall, may be among the targets, and a debate was expected about even more security measures.
However devoted Christians already realized that openly expressing the Christian faith can be dangerous.
In one of the bloodiest anti-Christian attacks, masked gunmen sprayed bullets and hurled grenades at two churches in the northern Kenyan town of Garissa on July 1 last year, killing at least 15 people and injuring several.
Kenyatta said fighters may have included militants from outside the region.
CITING INTELLIGENCE REPORTS
“Intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack. We cannot confirm the details at present, but forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists.”
In another tweet seen by BosNewsLife al-Shabab said Kenya also detained a Dutchman for alleged involvement in the Nairobi mall attack. Al-Shabab militants identified the suspect as Mohamed Hussein Ahmed,38.
Dutch authorities were investigating the claim. President Kenyatta said authorities have detained 11 people in connection with the mall attack.
Reports of a British woman’s involvement have raised questions whether the widow of one of the bombers responsible for the 2005 London subway bombings, Samantha Lewthwaite, was involved in the Westgate mall attack, news reports said.
She has previously been linked to terrorist groups in Kenya and is wanted for planning other attacks in the country, the Voice of America (VOA) network reported.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).