World Bulletin / News Desk
Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall - scene of one of the bloodiest attacks by al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militants - is set to reopen on Saturday.
The mall’s return comes two years after Somali-based militants attacked the center in retaliation for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia, killing 69 people.
Past giant automatic doors amid gleaming golden corridors, workers battle with time to finish extensive remodeling costing $4.8 million.
Bullet holes in the walls from the Sept. 21, 2013 attack are now filled with fresh layers of cement and paint while the once blood-splattered corridors where lifeless bodies lay are now spotless and shine with an almost blinding brilliance.
Atul Shah, managing director of mall owners Nakumatt Holdings, told reporters: “We are proud to announce that we will be officially opening on Saturday at 10 a.m. [0700GMT], which falls in place also with the Ramadan holiday. All are welcome.
“Thank you for the support that you have given us in the last two years during difficult times. It will be a happy day for us but we should not forget the 69 people who died. We prayed and we are still praying that their souls will be in peace.”
Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero said Kenyans will never forget the victims of the attack.
“We recall with sadness and nostalgia exactly 22 months ago that fateful Saturday when we had a tragedy here… They killed 69 people but the indomitable Kenyan spirit still prevails,” he said.
Kidero added that the county government is to build a memorial park next to the center to remember those who died.
The victims of the attack were mostly Kenyan but 19 foreigners from countries such as India, Britain, Canada, France and China also fell to the gunmen’s bullets.
Hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of injured and a final Red Cross report showed that more than 170 people were wounded.
Angy Kulola, 28, told Andaolu Agency she will not be visiting the mall anytime soon.
“The images are still fresh in my brain - it’s like visiting a morgue, I cannot just walk into that place knowing that so many people died in that building,” Kulola said.
“I would rather walk down the road to a different shopping mall. My view is that the Westgate shopping center should have been turned into a memorial.”
Billy Maina, a flower salesman said he was looking forward to the reopening. “Before the attack there were so many tourists here,” he said. “Kenyans don’t buy flowers as much as the tourists do. I believe that they will come back.”
Student Stella Nyaboke said that despite the fact that many of her friends died at the mall she will still shop there. “I owe them that much,” she told Anadolu Agency. “Whenever I visit the mall I will always say a short prayer. I am glad that Westgate is coming back.”Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Temmuz 2015, 15:49