Westgate Mall Set to Reopen Nearly Two Years After Deadly Al Shabaab Attack

The high end mall in the Kenyan capital has been closed since the attack in 2013, but the shopping center’s main anchor store said the shopping will reopen its doors next week.

by VICE News
Jul 10 2015, 3:24pm

Photo by Ben Curtis/AP

On September 21, 2013, at least four al Shabaab gunmen held Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall under siege for four days, killing 67 people and injuring another 175 before Kenyan authorities managed to take out the assailants.

The high end mall in the Kenyan capital, popular among expatriates and the Nairobi elite, has been closed since the attack. But the shopping center's main anchor store Nakumatt Holdings announced Friday that Westgate will reopen its doors next week on July 18.

Former mall tenant Terry Mungai said she will also reopen her store Ashley's Beauty Centre, according to a report in the Kenyan newspaper the Star.

"As patriotic Kenyan business people, we are confident that Westgate Mall will arise from the ruins to greater heights than it ever was and we have booked space five times bigger," Mungai said. "We've made such a booking as a mark of our confidence on Westgate Shopping Mall and to enable us to expand Ashley's Beauty Centre services."

Nakumatt Holdings and Mungai detailed expanded stores and posted photos of the revamped space. Reactions on social media appeared largely positive, with some tweeting about the reopening as a symbol of renewal and resilience.

Since the 2013 mall attack, Kenyan authorities have detained four Somalis allegedly connected with the attack. In the 22 months since the siege, Kenya has been the site of multiple violent attacks carried out by the Somali Islamist extremist group.

On April 2, Garissa University College, located 120 miles from the border in northeastern Kenya, became the site of one of the deadliest terror attacks in the country's history. Al Shabaab gunmen stormed the campus, targeting mostly non-Muslim students in a brutal attack that left a total of 142 university students and six security force members dead.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Kenyan authorities announced that al Shabaab fighters had released two police officers, nearly two years after they were kidnapped from Garissa back in May of 2013. They were officially given up by the militant group in June, but the information was just made public this week.