Blood-thirsty killers paused to take soda

Fred Bosire worked at the Nakumatt Westgate branch. He happily survived. Photo/ OLIVE BURROWS

Fred Bosire worked at the Nakumatt Westgate branch. He happily survived. Photo/ OLIVE BURROWS

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 24 – When I first heard the gunshots I instinctively ran for the supermarket exit but when I saw people were falling all around me I ran back to the meat counter I had been manning.

There were already people crouched behind the counter but I squeezed in and got enough room to lie down, face first.

It was what you typically did when caught in the cross fire between police and armed robbers – which is what I thought was happening given the screams of ‘mwizi’ (thief) I had heard before hitting the deck.

Before I hit the ground I saw some shoppers still walking around, pushing their shopping carts slowly, trying to figure out what was going on. They, like me, probably thought the gunfire would be short-lived and matters quickly cleared up.

I didn’t immediately seek out a hard-to-reach place either or an alternative exit because, like I said, I didn’t think we were the targets but I was quickly dispossessed of that fantasy when I heard the shooters speak.

It was hard to make out what they were saying at first because they spoke in a mix of English, Kiswahili and what I think was Arabic but from what I could make out I knew we were in trouble.

“You have invaded our country,” I believe one of them said, “you have raped our women and killed our elderly and it is time we got some retribution.”

Once they made their mission known they just started shooting and I could hear screams, cries for help, gasps of shock as, I later found out, they shot those who lay on the ground between the aisles.

I quickly burrowed my upper body beneath the meat counter as there was no room for anything else but I still hoped that someone would stop ‘them’ whoever ‘they’ were before they got to us.

Hope blossomed when I heard them come upon a woman who identified herself as a French national and her children. I knew she had children because they were crying and one of the terrorists told them to, “shut-up.”

I couldn’t make a sound because I could hear them shoot anyone who let out a moan

I didn’t hear their response but I recall their mother being told, “You’re lucky we don’t kill children,” before being ordered to take her children and run.

She wasn’t however, the only one to identify herself as a French national but having no children, this woman tried bargaining for her life.

“I have money,” I think she said, “take anything you want.”

But as they’d said, they weren’t after money so they shot her and I knew in that moment that if they had no mercy for an unarmed woman who’d laid herself bare, they’d have no mercy for me — a man.

And I was right. I could feel the counter shudder as they shot at the display case. I could hear the squish sound the meat made when they stood on it but curiously I didn’t feel it when the bullets hit me.



Olive Burrows has been writing features for the last five years having studied communication at Daystar University. She hopes to make a difference through human interest features and is passionate about the environment. She hopes to grow her experience doing radio and video features at Capital FM and to contribute to the brand’s tradition of trend setting.

  • Njeri Nderi

    Oh my

    • anonymous

      food for thought..they are revenging wot our KDF forces are doing in there homeland.which wiv turned a blind eye..Equilibrium!!!!

  • Iganza mudacci

    That was a chilling account of events. thank you for putting it out there Olive. As for Fred, we are praying that you come out of this totally healed of both your mental and physical scars.

  • Muthoni

    Well told story. Paints the picture so clearly. Am moved

  • Eng Ben Mejja®

    And as I pressed into my vibrating phone I knew I had to press on my leg
    so the blood would clot because dead people don’t keep bleeding :(

    • Sarah Shalom Kenya

      Glory to God that you came out safe and sound to tell of God’s saving power

  • Peris

    Its a hot day, but reading this has left me shaking. Fred you will be well.

  • pellyw .

    Get well soon,

  • Kollo Nabiswa

    You will be well soon, Fred.

  • kat

    i had tears welling up in eyes especially when u talked to ur wife and told her not to tell ur son. Wish u quick recovery and praying that ur nightmare ends soon

  • Millyz

    its a sad experience that you went though bother but one thing is that God loves you so much, he will help you get over the memories. Get well soon

  • karenka2

    Much love to you, Fred. I’m so sorry you had to go through this.

  • Muchai

    Well, I guess that makes them ‘soda-thirsty killers’ doesn’t it?

  • Liz Amol

    Fred wish you a speedy recovery… is well!!! i cant even begin to imagine what you went through, but you will be fine.

  • Kiprotich

    You are very brave Fred, may God Bless you and help you come to terms with all you and your family have suffered.

  • Jaleen

    This story is just horrifying, surely may God grant the terrorists mercy and heal those who were involved in this incident…its really sad and i pray this will never happen again, peace not war my dear brothers..killing innocent people never solved any problem…To Fred, God will give you comfort, we pray for you and other survivors and family members..stay strong

  • Duncan Muchina

    It is tragic that all this was taking place as our armed guys bickered and argued about chains of command and who answers to who. From the narratives streaming in, it’s pretty obvious that the terrorists had way too much time in their hands to do as they pleased with their hostages. Why? Was it fear or lack of preparedness in such eventualities? How did they ring the place with explosives to cause a massive cave-in? Where were the uniformed guys? Someone must answer these questions.

    • mkenya

      I think KDF did extremely well. if you look at the history of such events they take weeks not days to resolve, a 30 minute gunfight will cause you hearing loss for 6 or 7 days so for them to stay focused for 3 days shows incredible training and remarkable endurance. The lybian embassy siege in UK took 11 days to resolve, the algerian gas crisis took 6 days… just a few examples. the terrorists had time to do as they pleased but remember this was an ENTIRE MALL… to walk in there is suicide especially considering the unknown elements. I am saddened by the death toll but trust me it could have been much much worse were it not for the way KDF handled it.

      • Duncan Muchina

        I am not sure..just hypothesizing but I feel like the GSU Recce Commandos ought to have been left to finish the job with our Police. An operation that involves all three gets complicated especially taking into account that when the military guys arrived, Recce and police were already inside the Mall. How could they avoid friendly fire from such a scenario? One positive, however, is that in the future, the three units will be better prepared.

  • Sarah Shalom Kenya

    Fred, we thank God with you. God’s purpose for your life is great. May this horrifying incidence draw you even much dearer to God. May you find solace and peace of mind and heart from above.

  • matthew muturi

    Its only God that can deliver us from all this misfortunes of time…. there is time for everything as the bible says.
    making known the end of time and speaking out his name is the only sure way that God is going to save us………….. beleive in Him alone………