NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – The government and the Kenya Red Cross were on Friday giving conflicting information with Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku insisting that no one had been reported missing while the non-governmental organisation maintained that 61 people had not yet been traced.
Lenku told journalists on Friday that the police had not received any formal reports of missing persons following the Westgate shopping mall tragedy while at the same time directing those with missing kin to report to the Visa Oshwal Centre, where Kenya Red Cross has been running a tracing desk.
He also said that no body had been recovered at the crime scene since his last media brief on Thursday afternoon.
Lenku advised the public to disregard “figures given by any other entity” and to trust the information coming from the government.
“We are giving the position of government and the position of government on the figures for the dead is still 67; 61 civilians and six security officers. Please accept the official government position,” he said.
Five suspected terrorists were also killed during the operation at the mall that took about four days.
The Kenya Red Cross has been documenting and updating the public on a list of missing people since the tragedy occurred.
It even came up with a hotline, (+254) 714 820 219, where those with missing persons can report or call for updates.
But Lenku said that the government was worried about some of the numbers that have been coming out from non-governmental organisations.
“We have also read with concern the issue of other information emerging from various points. We want to urge Kenyans that the position we give here is informed from collective points from the work we are doing at the Westgate mall,” said Lenku.
Security officers have been combing the scene since Wednesday, when they took over the ill-fated mall and according to Lenku no bodies have been recovered so far.
Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet had on Friday announced that their volunteers had been told to be on stand-by, following reports of more bodies in the mall.
But Lenku maintained: “No bodies have been recovered from the rubble so far and according to police records there are no official reports of missing persons who could have been at the mall at the time of the attack.”
On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed fears that some bodies including the terrorists’ could be trapped under the debris after three floors caved in.