Westgate Mall attacker lived in Somali refugee camp, say Kenyan officials

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 9:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:49am

One of the four gunment who attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, once lived in a refugee camp of 50,000 Somali refugees in northwestern Kenya, two security officials said.

Their disclosure highlighted Kenya's interest in speeding up the return home of nearly 500,000 Somali refugees.

Very little is known about the gunmen behind the four-day siege in September that killed 67 people inside the mall. Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamic extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

One attack suspect has been identified as Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a 23-year-old Somalia native whose family moved to Norway in 1999. A second name was revealed in court documents last week, that of Mohammed Abdinur Said. An official confirmed that he was another attacker.

A Kenyan security official said that Said had lived in the Kakuma refugee camp, run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which houses 101,000 refugees. A second security official investigating the attack said that more than one attacker passed through Kakuma camp.

The head of UNHCR in Kenya, Raouf Mazou, said on Monday that his organisation had been co-operating with the Kenyan government on the Westgate investigation but said he was "not aware of any specific case and not the name that you mentioned".

Said was identified as one of the four gunmen from the mall's security camera footage. Kenyan and international security agencies like the FBI are still working to identify all four attackers seen in the footage.

Kenyan officials have said that the remains of four people have been recovered from the rubble of the mall, but there has been no confirmation that those remains match up with the four gunmen in the video.

Kenya has hosted refugees for two decades. An agreement signed on Sunday between Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR said that the 475,000 registered Somali refugees inside Kenya would get support when they returned to their homeland - if they chose to return.