Witness to Nairobi Mall Terror Attack: There Were Bodies ‘All Over the Place’

By Amber Kiwan

Sep 22, 2013 1:32pm

A photographer who rushed to the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after terrorists attacked the upscale shopping center said today on “This Week” it was “clear this was going to be something very bad” as soon as he got inside.

As of this morning, Kenyan officials said the attack had left at least 59 dead and close to 200 wounded, and more than 24 hours after terrorists began throwing grenades and firing AK-47s at the Saturday shoppers, the siege was still going on. Police said they believed 10 to 15 attackers were still holding 30 people hostage.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack, which began Saturday at a peak time for the busy mall.

New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks, who was nearby when the attacks began, told Martha Raddatz in an interview on “This Week,” what he saw inside, after entering the mall through an exit where civilians were fleeing from the gunfire.

The Scene Inside

“I realized how serious it was when I saw three dead bodies on the steps just outside the mall front entrance,” he said. “Once in, it was clear that this was going to be something very bad. There were several bodies clearly visible around the mall. Two men who had, as far as I could see, been eating lunch, were killed just next to a table where they had been having their lunch in a café. Another man in front of an ATM machine, someone in front of the entrance to the supermarket … there seemed to be bodies really strewn all over the place.”

Hicks: An Organized Attack, But a Chaotic Rescue Mission

“[The Kenyan police and army] were moving around in these big open areas where there’s a lot of places for people to hide,” Hicks said. “There’s a casino, there’s a movie theater, a huge supermarket. There are all these shops where, at any given place, someone could be there. This is what made it so difficult for them as they were trying to locate the assailants and also to try to aid civilians to get out of the mall.”

Civilians Hiding Inside the Upscale Mall

“There’s a sushi restaurant where a woman came out of an air vent near the ceiling, she had hidden herself up there,” Hicks said. “A lot of it wasn’t very apparent at first, because people were locked inside their shops, hiding. Occasionally you’d just see somebody waving through the glass, the police or the army would go over and get them out as fast as they could.”

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