7 unanswered questions about Westgate siege
After the horrific Westgate siege on September 21 that left at least 61 people dead, questions still linger on how successful the entire operation was. The government has already parted herself for a successful operation. But we are still asking many questions. Today we have 7 questions to ask the government:
1. Where are the terrorists bodies
This is perhaps the hardest question we need to ask the government. President Uhuru Kenyatta was on live television saying that the military shot five gunmen on Monday. If the military shot that five where did their bodies go? How come the journalists who had camped outside the mall never saw the bodies of the said terrorists being removed from the mall?
2. How many terrorist took siege of Westgate
Interior cabinet secretary Joseph Ole Lenku is on record telling Kenyans that there were about 10 to 15 gunmen that had seized the mall. In the same press conference the Chief of the Defence Forces Julius Karangi even quipped that there were foreign fighters among the gunmen. Karangi views were amplified by the CS Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed who even claimed that the white widow,Samatha Lewthwaite, was among the Westgate attacks.
But CCTV footage now being circulated widely shows about four to five gunmen who had even time to pray on Saturday evening as the army armed to the tooth fought the al shabaab. Is it possible that the government was misleading the world to make Westgate attack look worse?
How did four militias hold the mall for four days with all the sophisticated weaponry at the disposal of KDF and the elite unit.
3. How could the terrorist who were contained on Saturday still shoot on Monday
The government by Sunday,September 22, had claimed that terrorists had been contained in a corner on Saturday evening. CCTV cameras shows that the gunmen moving around the mall leisurely with others taking turn to pray after massacring 61 people.
On Saturday night and Sunday Westgate was very quiet. No shooting. Not blasts. But waking up on Monday the story had changed, there was gunfight,then a blast and later a huge smoke-filled the skies. Who was fighting after the terrorists were contained on Saturday?
4. How did the gunmen blow off Westgate on Monday
After the blast on Monday September 23 dark smoke bellowed from the mall. The media was kept about 400m from the scene of crime so they could only speculate on what was causing the smoke. After floods of theories about what had happened at Westgate Ole Lenku briefed the media.
The CS told Kenyans and the world that the smoke was caused by terrorists who had burnt mattresses in a bid to escape from the mall. This theory was floated by the government despite the fact that they had earlier said the terrorists had been contained and five of them had been shot dead.
What the government did not tell the world is that they had blown off the mall causing massive damage. Because the media was not allowed in KDF on September 25,five days after the attack,promised to allow the media in. But the decision was cancelled at the last-minute.
Media was informed that KDF will supply the footage and pictures to media houses. The footage was released to TV stations and showed the depth of the damage at the mall. The print media never received those images but instead photos of Gen Karangi inspecting the were later released.
From the photos it has now emerged that the extensive damage could not have been caused by burning mattresses as alleged by Ole Lenku. So the question is who blew off Westgate Mall? What was the purpose of blowing up the mall?
5. Where are the 23 people still missing
On Monday Kenya Red Cross said the number of those still missing stands ta 23. If the Rec Cross is right where are these people? Did the government recover any bodies from the rubble at Westgate?
6. How did the 4 to 5 terrorists take siege of Westgate for four with a battalion of KDF outside
It is still a puzzle how five gunmen held the country hostage for four days. CCTV cameras shows the militia walking and even praying during the siege. With all the tanks,sophisticated weapons and even helicopters combing the area how did this siege last this long?
7. Why did the Elite Recce squad withdrawn from the mall
The Recce squad is the elite GSU unit best suited to handle a hostage situation or a siege. After the attack the squad came in later and it is alleged they helped rescue some VIP who were at the mall. Sources have said that due to confusion in chain of commander one recce squad officer was shot by KDF soldiers which led to their withdrawal out of Westgate.
Why did the government decide to withdraw a team that was best suited to handle Westgate and replace them with combat soldiers? Why did it look like the Chief of Defence forces was in charge of internal security matter which ideally should follow under Inspector General of Police?
The are hard questions that Kenyans will keep asking. But fortunately Kenyans also forget fast. Soon these questions will be forgotten they have already been replaced by the ICC trial buzz. But to the families of those who lost their members and those injured these are questions that will remain with them