As the dust settles on the events of last weekend, where the Westgate shopping mall was held hostage by a number of people, we must turn to the business of moving forward.
1,000 people were rescued and 175 survived with injuries, but almost everyone in the country watching the four-day siege unfold in the media felt powerless; powerless to help stop what was going on at the mall, and powerless to protect themselves from another such unpredictable attack if, God forbid, it ever happened again.
The attackers forced their way into the mall on Saturday and opened fire on shoppers, killing people on the spot. They also lobbed grenades.
Because the attack took place on a Saturday morning at a mall, there were countless families there – children attending a cooking competition, others accompanying their parents on shopping excursions and yet others dropped off at a play gym on the fourth floor while their parents went about their business. Any parent will tell you that while it is terrifying to be in such a position, it is almost paralyzing to think about being caught in this situation with your child.
Don't let the terrorists win
We recognise and understand the pain and the fear of this ever happening again in future. But we also know that we cannot live in fear, and that we must continue with our lives because to do anything else would be to let the terrorists win.
However, you do not have to feel like a sitting duck; here are a few tips you can utilize to help you feel a little bit more secure against any sort of aggression.
We spoke to security expert and Managing Director of Absolute Security Ltd, Sadik Makii, who offered us his tips on what to do in such a situation. "If you hear gunshots and you do not know where they are coming from," he says, "the first thing to do is to lay flat on the ground. That way, you will not get caught in any crossfire."
His instruction is corroborated by 15-year Raisah Virani, one of the contestants of the cooking competition. She was accompanied by her mother, her sister and her friend. Speaking to NTV, Raisah says they heard five explosions in the upper car park where the competition was going on, and then people started running towards them shouting instructions to lie on the ground, which she did.
"The people that were moving were the ones that were shot at or got caught in the cross fire. We lay still," she recalls. Raisah and her friend were later rescued after laying still for an hour, and now she lives to tell the story.
According to Makii, "The next thing you should do is look for cover – a chair, a table, whatever will keep you covered while you assess the situation and figure out what is happening." A number of hostages who survived the Westgate attack were those who ducked under whatever surface or cover they could findLook for coverBusiness man Andrew Munyua told NTV that he was at the security desk at the entrance when the terrorists struck. Initially, he thought it was a robbery at the bank but when the security guards who were screening him fell down dead, he threw himself on the ground. Lying low, he crawled out of sight of the attackers until he was rescued.
Ben Mulwa was driving into the mall when the chaos erupted. He noticed that the gunmen first targeted and shot at the security cubicles, then turned on those who were in their cars. He left his car and hid behind a flower bed in the parking lot until the gunfire subsided and he was rescued. He escaped with a graze on his arm.
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