Kenya buries its dead amid search for bodies and clues

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NAIROBI: Kenya on Thursday buried victims of a four-day mall massacre by Islamist gunmen as international forensic and security experts scanned the rubble for bodies and clues.

Weeping mourners from multiple religions gathered for the latest funerals  of the 67 victims whose bodies have so far been recovered from the wreckage of  Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall.
 
Across Kenya, flags flew at half mast for the second of three days of  national mourning.
 
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced an end to the 80-hour bloodbath late  Tuesday, with the “immense” loss of 61 civilians and six members of the  security forces. Five suspected attackers were also killed, and 11 detained,  officials said.
 
Police said the death toll was provisional, with the Kenyan Red Cross  reporting 71 people missing.
 
In one of many funerals, over two thousand mourners turned out Thursday  morning to pay their final respects to Ruhila Adatia, 31, a popular television  and radio personality who was pregnant with her first child, in a joint  ceremony also held for Shairoz Dossa, 44, a mother of three.
 
Both came from Kenya’s Ismaili Muslim community.
 
Shelina Manji, a friend of Adatia, said the last time they saw each other  they promised to talk later.
 
“We never had that conversation,” she told the somber crowd, some dabbing  their eyes as tears welled up.
 
The front page of The Standard, one of Kenya’s main daily newspapers,  simply showed a red rose and the headline, “in honour of our fallen loved ones”.  
 
Teams of volunteer counsellors and psychologists have set up several  centres, including at the main morgue in Nairobi, where “anyone who was  affected by the Westgate attack can obtain counselling,” they said in a  statement.
 
Fellow radio presenter Kamal Kaur was with Adatia at a children’s cooking  contest on the mall’s rooftop parking when the attackers struck, recounting the horror as the insurgents raked the screaming crowds with bullets and hurled  grenades.
 
“I had around 30 to 35 kids with me... and when the blast went off I tried  to protect them by ordering them to get down and lie on the floor... After the  blast, and screaming from the kids, the shots started coming in,” Kaur told The  Standard.
 
Kaur, who huddled against a wall as she tried to stem the pumping blood  from the neck of a little boy, said she did not see how Adatia died.
 
But she recalled her final words, just minutes before the carnage began.
 
 “She was telling me how she had bought something for ’my little papa’ (her  unborn baby), and I was telling her to stop buying too many things because we  will have nothing else to give as a gift when it finally comes,” Kaur added. 
 
"Those were the last words I said to her.”  
 
As Kenyans mourned, rescuers and investigators continued to search the  damaged Westgate mall complex, a large section of which collapsed after heavy explosions and a fierce fire.
 
Thin wisps of grey smoke continued to rise from the building, apparently  from where the back of the building has collapsed, with tonnes of concrete now smothering where the insurgents are believed to have made their final stand,  alongside possibly multiple hostages.
 
Police have repeatedly called for Kenyans to be patient but many are  growing frustrated, with some taking to social media to demand swift answers to  a raft of questions on what brought part of the building down, the fate of the  missing and the status of the investigation. 
 
Somalia’s Shebab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane said the Nairobi mall carnage was  a “message to Westerners” who had “backed Kenya’s invasion (of Somalia) that  has spilled the blood of the Muslims for the interest of their oil companies”.  
 
In an audio message posted on an Islamist website, Godane threatened “more  bloodshed” unless Kenya withdrew its troops.
 
Kenya invaded southern Somalia to attack Shebab bases two years ago, and  later joined the 17,700-strong African Union force (AMISOM) deployed in Somalia.
 
Workers at the mall were seen wearing face masks and some soldiers wrapped  scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench inside the centre, once the capital’s most upmarket mall. 
 
Investigators from Britain, the United States, Israel, Germany, Canada and  Interpol are working in the site.
 
Kenya’s interior minister has said the search is an “elaborate process” and  will take at least a week to complete.
 
“Among the things that are going on now are fingerprinting, DNA  identification (and) ballistic examinations,” Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters  on Wednesday.
 
Officials have called for patience.
 
“We would like to urge all to enable us to answer all the questions,” Kenya  police has said, a statement repeated several times on social media.
 
“We all want answers, we all want to know who is responsible for this  brutal, cowardly and unconscionable act,” British High Commissioner Christian  Turner said after visiting the site on Wednesday.
 
“But we now need to let the professionals do their job. This will take some  time.”  AFP

An image grab taken from footage released by the Kenyan military on September 26, 2013 shows the extent of the damage to Nairobi's Westgate Mall in Nairobi after the four-day siege. Kenyan and foreign forensics teams scoured the wreckage of a Nairobi shopping mall on September 25, 2013 for bodies and clues after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing. Rescuers and investigators wore face masks and some soldiers wrapped scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench inside the Westgate centre, once the capital's most upmarket mall. A large part of the complex has collapsed after heavy explosions and a fierce fire. AFP PHOTO / HO / KENYA MILITARY

An image grab taken from footage released by the Kenyan military on September 26, 2013 shows the extent of the damage to Nairobi's Westgate Mall in Nairobi after the four-day siege. Kenyan and foreign forensics teams scoured the wreckage of a Nairobi shopping mall on September 25, 2013 for bodies and clues after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing. Rescuers and investigators wore face masks and some soldiers wrapped scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench inside the Westgate centre, once the capital's most upmarket mall. A large part of the complex has collapsed after heavy explosions and a fierce fire. AFP PHOTO / HO / KENYA MILITARY

An image grab taken from footage released by the Kenyan military on September 26, 2013 shows the extent of the damage to Nairobi's Westgate Mall in Nairobi after the four-day siege. Kenyan and foreign forensics teams scoured the wreckage of a Nairobi shopping mall on September 25, 2013 for bodies and clues after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing. Rescuers and investigators wore face masks and some soldiers wrapped scarves around their mouths because of an overpowering stench inside the Westgate centre, once the capital's most upmarket mall. A large part of the complex has collapsed after heavy explosions and a fierce fire. AFP PHOTO / HO / KENYA MILITARY

A Maasai man looks out over the still-smouldering Westgate Mall from an overlooking building, in Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. Working near bodies crushed by rubble in a bullet-scarred, scorched mall, FBI agents began fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis Wednesday to help determine the identities and nationalities of victims and al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the shopping center, killing more than 60 people. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Pall bearers carry on September 26,2013 the coffin of journalist Ruhila Adatia-Sood during a funeral ceremony in Nairobi. Ruhila Adatia-Sood was killed by gunmen in the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. Kenyan and foreign forensics teams scoured the wreckage of a Nairobi shopping mall on September 25, 2013 for bodies and clues after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

Griving relatives attend on September 26, 2013 the funeral ceremony for Kenyan journalist Ruhila Adatia-Sood in Nairobi. Ruhila Adatia-Sood was killed by gunmen in the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. Kenyan and foreign forensics teams scoured the wreckage of a Nairobi shopping mall on September 25, 2013 for bodies and clues after a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen left 67 dead and dozens more missing. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA


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