24 September 2013

Kenya: Media Coverage of Westgate Siege Applauded

Nairobi — The Media Council of Kenya has applauded the local media for covering the Westgate incident in a sensitive manner. The council's Chief Executive Officer Harun Mwangi said the media has come of age in reporting such matters, saying it had successfully rallied the nation to unity.

"Because of your responsible reporting, Kenyans have remained united in mourning and condemning the attack," Mwangi said. "This is not a common occurrence and there are challenges when it comes to reporting." Mwangi said that the MCK intends to organise counselling sessions for journalists who covered the incident.

"So many journalists have become traumatised as a result of covering this; it has not been easy for them," he stated. "Most of the time they are forgotten but we have already set up a counselling centre for them." He also urged Kenyans to continue supporting the victims of the incident.

Mwangi further commended the government and all security personnel for their continued efforts in saving the Westgate hostages. On Tuesday, Kenyan troops were said to be in "control" of the Westgate shopping mall, three days after a deadly siege by Islamists, who, according to the foreign minister Amina Mohammed, included two to three Americans and a British woman.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab insurgents have claimed the attack, which began midday on Saturday when the armed militants marched into the complex, tossed grenades and fired automatic weapons and sent panicked shoppers fleeing.

No details on the numbers of hostages released have been given, but 63 people were earlier recorded missing by the Red Cross, a figure thought to include hostages as well as those possibly killed. Almost 200 were wounded in the attack, and at least 11 Kenyan troops were wounded in intense gun battles on Monday.

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