, NAIROBI Kenya, Sept 21- Today marks exactly one year since the horrendous Westgate terror attack that left 67 people dead and property worth millions destroyed.
The attack was perpetrated by Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militants who later said it was in retaliation of the continued stay of Kenya’s military in their lawless country Somalia.
Memorial services were held in various parts of the country where families and friends of the departed congregated to honour them and recall one of Kenya’s darkest day, which President Uhuru Kenyatta said will live with us forever, in his commemoration message published in a local daily.
“We learnt that unimaginable horror, unspeakable evil and intolerable pain can accost and devastate us at the most ordinary times and in the most mundane places,” President Kenyatta said in the editorial.
“We saw fully the unbearably monstrous face of pure evil, revealed to us by fellow humans who are capable of the most horrific, senseless and gratuitous meanness,” he added.
In President Kenyatta’s view, Kenyans “witnessed another bold truth: That ordinary people are capable of truly extraordinary feats of compassion, selflessness, and solidarity.”
In Nairobi, families and friends congregated outside Westgate shopping mall where the attack occurred on this day last year.
Others were meeting at Karura forest for prayers and speeches rekindling memories of the fateful day when families were violently robbed of their loved ones.
Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said he was impressed by the support Kenyans gave to the affected families during the tragedy.
“Just to say thank you is not enough for that support,” he said in his commemoration speech at the Karura forest. “Kenyans came together, they stood for one cause, we saw true mankind in the dedication displayed in saving the survivors.”
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo announced on Saturday that he had ordered officers countrywide to be on high alert following fears of an attack as Kenyans commemorate the September 2013 tragedy.
“We are prepared for anything, our officers are on high alert in all parts of the country and we urge the public to work closely with us,” the police chief said, and defended actions of the police during the siege that followed the attack following accusations that police did not do enough to save lives.
“In the circumstances, we did our best, we tried as much to save lives and cannot be blamed at all,” he said.