Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fate of 64 missing in Nairobi attack unknown

The fate of the 64 people reported missing in the terror attack on a Nairobi mall remained a mystery Wednesday with authorities remaining tight-lipped on what has transpired at the operational level over the past two days.

Kenyan police and government officials have not made public any details of the latest developments attack that started Saturday, leading to widespread speculation that the 64 may have died, or are trapped in the rubble of the building whose three floors have since collapsed.

So far 67 people, including six soldiers involved in the operation, have died and five terrorists confirmed dead, according to Kenyatta’s Tuesday night televised address.

Dozens of Kenyan-Indians have also lost their lives, as well as businesses. Third generation Indians are dominant residents in the the area where the mall is located.

At least five of the bodies have already been interred at the local Ismailia cemetery.

Forensic specialists from Israel, the US, Britain, Germany, Canada and Interpol have been called in to help with investigations, according to cabinet secretary Francis Kimemia.

The United States Ambassador to Kenya says U.S. experts are helping Kenyan forces search for bodies and evidence in the collapsed mall that Islamic terrorists held for four days.

An official tells The Associated Press that Nairobi's city morgue is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies of people killed in the Westgate mall terrorist attack in Kenya.

The government official says morgue employees were told to prepare for many bodies. Morgue employees were dressed in smocks early Tuesday, though no bodies had been delivered. Most of those bodies were already taken to the morgue, either directly or from hospitals.

According to the Kenya Psychological Association (KPA), lack of information is causing anxiety among people whose kin have been missing since Saturday.

KPA Chairperson Gladys Mwiti told journalists on Tuesday that the lack of information was affecting the families' and victims' psychological wellbeing.

"We do not have right now actual data of who lost their family member or a relative but we can say that some of the cases that we have seen include those that do not know where their relatives are," she said.

"That is very worrying and very anxiety provoking." The last media brief that the government gave was on Monday at around 3pm. Government agencies have however been randomly tweeting information surrounding the attack, but this information might not be accessible to everyone.

The Kenya Red Cross has so far registered 64 people as missing but information from the non-governmental agency has also not been forthcoming.

"Right now I can only tell you that we have recorded 64 people as those that are missing but I cannot disclose any other details," said a Kenya Red Cross official who declined to be named.

The Visa Oshwal Centre is being used as a tracing and counselling facility but it is not very easy to get in for security reasons. KPA Secretary Sammy Wambugu said that more counselling centres would be opened up with one at the Uhuru Park and another at the City Mortuary.

"We are aware that most Kenyans have been flocking the Uhuru Park and so we want to set up a facility there by tomorrow morning. We also know that people have been going to the morgue to look for their relatives and we will also have a team there to help in the grieving process," he said.

Hostages who were rescued as well as security personnel and children who witnessed the attack are being counselled and given psychological support.

There are also schools that have requested the counselling teams to visit their pupils but Red Cross refused to reveal any details or even number of these schools.

Mwiti said that it was important to counsel them so as to ensure they are able to overcome the emotional suffering they might have endured as a result.

"Some people may suffer false guilt and for instance someone might start asking himself why he allowed his wife and child to go shopping at Westgate instead of the Sarit Centre and there will be people who are grieving and identifying bodies in the morgue so the impact will be huge," she said.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


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