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Jumanne, Januari 31, 2023 Local time: 06:26

Kenya's Westgate Survivors Trying to Move On

Shoppers return to the reopened Westgate Shopping Mall, in Nairobi, nearly two years after a terrorist attack there left at least 67 people dead, in the capital Nairobi, Kenya, July 18, 2015.

Two years ago, terrorists attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, leaving at least 67 people dead. Many survivors of the attack are still fighting hard to move on.

Al-Shabab gunmen stormed Nairobi's Westgate Mall on September 21, 2013.

Kenyan troops were locked in a firefight with gunmen in a siege that lasted three days, while survivors hid in various parts of the building.

Teresia Syombua was in the mall that day and reopened her shop there one year ago. She vividly remembers the attack.

"There is a shop where some girls made a mistake of standing and looking at one of the terrorists. I saw one of them get shot in front of my eyes, they were finishing everyone, they did not want to know who you were, whether you are white or Indian. They just shot," said Syombua.

Kanini says getting over the attack has been hard. Like many Kenyans she is trying to come to grips with what happened.

"I am often scared by sounds that sound like firearms, which always takes me back to Westgate. The sounds made by motorbikes sometimes scare me, but God protects us and there is no place where there is no death," said Kanini.

A parliamentary inquiry following the attack revealed the government had been warned the mall was a target a year before it was hit. The inquiry also faulted a poorly coordinated response from Kenyan security forces.

Since the Westgate siege, al-Shabab has claimed a string of attacks in Kenya, with the deadliest this past April at the Garissa University where 148 people were killed.

The reopening of the mall last year came just a week before U.S. President Barack Obama visited Nairobi.

Westgate security guard Charles Nyangira says since the mall reopened, security had been increased inside and around the mall.

"Right now at Westgate, they try to read people, to use their behavior to tell whether they are a criminal or not. Right now there is security everywhere. Once you are in the mall, there is security everywhere,you feel comfortable," said Nyangira.

Kanini says she agrees.

"I feel that people are even afraid to enter Westgate because of the tight security. At the entrance all your belongings are thoroughly scrutinized. Kenyans are not used to that, so that kind of security has scared a lot of people, but at least there is security," she said.

Westgate Mall is in operation today, a symbol of the undying spirit of Kenyans like Kanini, and so many other Westgate survivors.