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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Call for unity, forgiveness on anniversary of Westgate terror attack

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Thursday called on citizens to unite and forgive each other as the country commemorated the fourth anniversary of Westgate mall terror attack that claimed 67 lives.

Kenyatta, who led the nation in the memorial celebrations in Nairobi, said the memory of the September 21, 2013 Westgate attack brings much pain and sadness but reminds Kenyans to stand together in solidarity against terrorism.

She said the attack shattered and changed the lives and dreams of affected people forever.

Those affected included fathers, mothers, sons, brothers and daughters.

Kenyatta said the memory also serves as a day when Kenyans were inspired by the courage and sacrifice of many patriots whose lives are a true testament of the endurance and strength of the human spirit.

The First Lady also launched a second blood donation mobile unit donated by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom under their partnership with Kenya’s BloodLink Foundation.

"I appreciate the work they are doing in raising awareness on the importance of blood donation to prevent unnecessary health risks and deaths," said Kenyatta.

She expressed confidence over the positive spirit by Kenyans to support causes that touch the lives of men and women, the youth and children, the elderly and vulnerable communities.

The Al-Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the attack which it said was carried out in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

The siege, which lasted more than two days, was one of the deadliest terror attacks in Kenyan soil in the past decade.

Kenyan armed forces and scores of patriotic citizens risked their lives to stop the murderous and indiscriminate killings.

Westgate Mall which has since been renovated is a popular shopping mall frequented by members of the diplomatic community, Kenyans and foreign visitors.

During the anniversary, survivors also sent strong messages of national forgiveness, peace, unity and gratitude as the country marked the fourth anniversary of the massacre.

The survivors described the Westgate assault as a "cowardly terrorist act"- aimed at intimidating Kenyans - but from which they had emerged victorious

"We need peace, forgiveness and gratitude.

"We forgive them so that we can move on," said one of the victors, Shamim Allu, who was hit by a grenade and braved five bullets on the back, hand and legs and waited for four hours before help could reach her.

The memorial event took place amid heightened security following intelligence indicating the possibility of an attack by the extremists group.

Dharmesh Vaya who lost his wife and sister-in-law during the attack had 10 family members inside the mall, eight of them rescued alive by Kenyan armed forces and brave Kenyans like photo-journalist Joseph Mathenge who joined the rescuers for the love of a friend and country.

"It is difficult to forget, but let’s forgive them.

"We cannot be thinking of what happened for ever", said Dharmesh, adding that his three children and two others left by his sister-in-law have given him the motivation and reason to continue with life, Vaya said.

 

             

 

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