Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall has been reopened for business. On Saturday, hundreds of shoppers lined up to browse sales specials nearly two years after a terrorist attack on the center killed 67 civilians.
“I’m glad it’s reopened,” Kenya’s Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, told Kenya’s Daily Nation. “It shows we will not be intimidated by these criminals and terrorists. We will fight back. We will lead normal lives. Whatever they do, we fight back and we are resilient.”
Nairobi Gov. Evans Kidero cut a ribbon during the reopening ceremony of the mall, which incurred extensive damages during the four-day siege by Kenya security forces, which used rocket propelled grenades to remove the four gunmen who had marched through the mall executing shoppers and store clerks. During the attack the gunmen ordered Muslims to leave and quizzed their targets about Islam in order to identify non-Muslims for execution.
— Joseph Boinnet (@JBoinnet) July 18, 2015
The attackers were members of al-Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked militant group that has been terrorizing Somalia for years. The group targeted non-Muslim Kenyan civilians as a response to a series of joint military operations in Somalia in 2011 involving Kenyan and Somali troops. Kenyan officials had blamed al-Shabab for a series of kidnappings target foreign tourists and aid workers in Kenya.
“We could hear the screams and gunshots," Brighton Salamba, a 25-year-old restaurant manager at the mall who returned to work Saturday, told the Associated Press. "We lost two colleagues in the attack." Salamba, who underwent counseling to cope with the massacre, managed to escape with 25 others by crawling through air ducts during the attack.
The mall, which employs about 250 people, reopened with a number of discounts on purchases. American restaurant chain Pizza Hut opened its first restaurant in Kenya at the mall on Saturday as part of a new push by its parent company, Yum Brands of Louisville, Kentucky, to return the pizza chain to Africa after failing to lure customers seven years ago.