Gujarati community leaders, working closely with the rescue and relief operations at the Nairobi mall which came under terror attack last Saturday, have put the death toll of Indians in the massacre at over 50, out of a total death toll of 130.
Gujaratis accounted for at least 35 of these deaths, reliable sources told over telephone even as the process of removal of rubble of the partially collapsed mall, under which more victims may be buried, continued on Thursday. Many Gujaratis own shops in the mall where a cooking contest was on for the Indian community when the attackers started firing indiscriminately.
Authenticating these figures, Manoj Shah, chairman of MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi, said 70 injured persons, many of them Indians, were admitted to his hospital and some of them are in a critical condition. The mall is a favourite haunt of the affluent in the Indian community, apart from Western expats.
Karsan Raghavani of Lakhsmanbhai and Co, which built the Westgate Mall, said, "With the debris still being cleared, the toll is certain to go higher," he said.
Chinubhai Shah of Visha Oswal Samaj said a number of children are still missing and complaints were being registered with the police. The Red Cross said 71 persons, who may have been in the mall when the assault began, remain unaccounted for.
Kenyan officials put the death toll at 72, including 61 civilians, six security agents and 5 terrorists. They indicated the toll could rise as there might be bodies trapped inside the collapsed building.
Kenyan police on Wednesday began their investigation which is being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Scotland Yard and the spy agencies of Israel and Germany. Kenyan police are looking into the possibility that some of the attackers, belonging to the Somali al-Shabaab group linked to al-Qaida, may have rented space inside the mall in preparation for the terrorist strike.
Almost 185,000 Indians ares settled permanently in Kenya and many of them trace their ancestry to Gujarat in India.