THE four terrorists involved in the Westgate mall attack refused to negotiate before they were killed, according to the final report of the Kenya Defence Forces.
By the end of the four-day operation in September, five soldiers and policemen had died. Four charred bodies, suspected to be those of the terrorists, were recovered at the mall.
Four AK47 rifles, eighteen AK47 magazines, twenty eight pamphlets on hostage taking, three empty metal ammunition boxes, two four-way communication equipment, two machetes and a huge amount of 5.56mm ammunition were recovered.
According to the KDF confidential report, the terrorists rebuffed attempts to negotiate by members of the task force comprising the Interior secretary Joseph Ole Lenku, Defence secretary Raychelle Omamo, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, Chief of Defense Forces Gen Julius Karangi, National Intelligence Security director general Michael Gichangi, CID boss Ndegwa Muhoro, Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, his deputy and a Kenya Red Cross representative.
The 21-page report entitled Conduct of Operation by KDF reveals that the army used heavy weapons after the terrorists rebuffed efforts to negotiate.
Instead, on the second day of the siege, they shot several members of the Ranger Strike Force and the Special Force who had been deployed at the mall.
The terrorists lobbed two grenades at soldiers from 20 paramilitary unit and 75 artillery battalion injuring two soldiers in the legs as they were retrieving the bodies of eight people on the first floor of the mall. The soldiers also rescued a woman hidden in the boot of her vehicle KAD 264D in the basement parking.
The report says that the KDF then decided to use heavy caliber weapons including 84mm anti tank ammunition, Pulemyot Kalashnikov Machinegun (PKM) and rocket propelled grenades to flush out the terrorists as the special forces were sequentially clearing the third and fourth floors.
The report says the terrorists lit fire on the first floor of Nakumatt supermarket to block the soldiers as they advanced.
The fire caused a blackout that slowed down the operation until a generator was brought to the site.
On the third day, 40 members of the elite Ranger Strike Force and 30 Special Forces members launched an early morning assault. Two soldiers were shot dead and a third one was shot in the hand as he tried to retrieve the bodies of his fallen colleagues.
The attackers then started yet another fire to slow down the operation. Two attempted to escape from the rear of the building but were forced back by soldiers who had placed an outer security cordon around the building. One was shot and injured but managed to re-enter the building where they are believed to have died.
“Following the intensity of the fire, the second floor car park caved in,” the report says.
The report, to be presented soon to President Uhuru Kenyatta, says the terrorists were defeated by midnight on Monday, September 23. The clearance of the mall started the next day.
“At end of the Day 1 (September 21), it became apparent that there were no hostages in the building save for persons who were hiding in fear of being killed. However, there were several callers most of them fake, who kept the multi-agency committee busy with unverifiable presence of various ‘hostages’ in various floors,” the report says.
At the time, even on September 23, ole Lenku was reported as saying there were at least 30 hostages held within the mall.
The report denies reports that there was any confrontation between KDF soldiers and GSU Recce squad officers who started the operation to clear the terrorists from the mall.
“Transition between the KDF and the General Service Unit (GSU) Recce team when the KDF troops arrived was smooth and therefore by the time the GSU team vacated the building at about 5 pm the agencies operated professionally and had managed to subdue the terrorists,” the report reveals.
Gen Karangi informed Defence Secretary Omamo, the Army Commander Lieutenant General Joseph Kasaon and senior KDF officer about the terror attack at 2 pm, 90 minutes after it started.
Karangi instructed Kaason to mobilise troops to Westgate. First to be deployed were 20 Para Battalion who had been at Langata preparing for Mashujaa day and who arrived at 4 pm.
The Kenya army also deployed four armored personnel carriers and two planes while the air force and the police each sent a helicopter.
The ad hoc multi-agency security committee comprising the police, KDF, NIS, emergency and rescue agencies, and Nairobi county government was supposed to collect the contact details and screen all rescued persons, and guard and interrogate the wounded in hospitals.
The Special Forces commandos and Ranger Special Force arrived at 5.20 pm and were ordered to clear the first floor of the shopping mall. One policeman involved in the operation was shot.
They rescued between 20 and 30 people hiding in the Airtel shop. They found five bodies on the first floor and 12 more bodies in the Nakumatt cold room. Seven people who were rescued said that the terrorists had moved to the storage room.
The report says the first reported instance of looting happened on the fourth day of the siege when a fireman identified as Wanjiru Wilson Kabira P/No. 68435 was intercepted by soldiers as he tried to loot mobile phones, cameras and chargers. He was ordered to return them to where he had picked them .
The KDF has denied its personnel were involved in the looting despite CCTV footage showing the soldiers walking into the supermarket, rifling in drawers and cash registers before walking out with plastic bags containing unknown items. Subsequently, the military explained the bags contained bottled water which the soldiers had been instructed to take from the supermarket shelves.
•Terrorists died in mall
•Five soldiers killed in operation
•No looting by KDF
•Soldiers did not drink alcohol
•No prior intelligence of attack