Ghana’s former President, Jerry John Rawlings, has sent a message of condolence and solidarity to the government and people of Kenya following the terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi on Saturday that has claimed at least 62 lives.
A statement issued by his office in Accra on Tuesday said this was contained in a signed letter addressed to the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Rawlings, who played a key role in the transition process in Somalia which led to the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as President of Somalia in 2012, said, “I write with sadness to express my deepest condolences to the government and people of Kenya and indeed all members of the international community who have been affected in diverse ways by the senseless act of terrorism at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.’
Rawlings said Kenya had played a key role in ensuring peace in Somalia, first as the host of several international organizations pursuing peace in Somalia and later supporting the peace enforcement mission in that country by joining AMISOM, the African union peacekeeping force.
“The Westgate attack is a reminder of the huge challenges that still confront Somalia and particularly AMISOM troops-contributing countries post-August 2012 and all avenues have to be explored to bring an end to the devious agenda of the Al Shabab insurgents.”
The former president urged the government and people of Kenya to remain resolute even under these very trying moments and continue to play a vital role in securing stability within the region.
The Kenyan government said on Monday that at least 1,000 people had been rescued from the mall.
The police said they were currently engaged in clean-up of explosives planted in the mall by the terrorists, while the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) said they were continuing with the operation to neutralise terrorist threat at the mall.
Explosions and gunshots have continued to ring out of the four-storey upscale mall, which was invaded by the al-Qaeda linked, Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorists on Saturday.
The government puts the death toll from the attack at 62, while the Red Cross said 69 had died and 175 injured.
Among the dead were two relatives of President Uhuru Kenyatta (his nephew and his fiancee), as well as Ghanaian academic, poet and politician, Kofi Awoonor, 78.
“Many of us have lost loved ones. Let us mourn them all as one nation and keep them always in remembrance and prayer,” PANA quoted President Kenyatta as saying in an address to the nation.
Claiming responsibility for the deadly attack, al-Shabaab said it was in retaliation for Kenya’s military operation to flush out terrorists from Somalia.
The attack on Westgate is being described as the deadliest terrorist attack in the East African nation since the 1998 attack on the US Embassy in Nairobi that left over 200 dead.