By WILLIAM MWANGI @memwarwilliams and NANCY AGUTU @nancyagutu
The US government reiterated its support for the fight against terrorism in Kenya and the region on the third anniversary of the September 11, 2013 Westgate Mall attack.
Ambassador Robert Godec shared his government’s commitment to freedom, democracy, rule of law, and respect for human life in a statement on Wednesday.
He said these remain the best responses by the world to terror groups such as al Shabaab, which killed at least 65 people and wounded 175 at the Nairobi mall that year.
“Today we remember the terrible attack… We will never forget the victims or the suffering of their families,” he said.
Godec assured continued support for the implementation of the new national strategy for countering violent extremism strategy, aimed at ending the scourge and bringing peace and prosperity.
“There should be no doubt that we are in this fight together. The United States is working hard with Kenya to strengthen mutual security by discouraging extremist recruitment and address the root causes of discontent among vulnerable youth,” he said.
“Today we also remember the bravery of those who risked everything to stop the terror. We stand with you in solidarity.”
The ambassador lauded the Kenyan government for continually supporting regional peace and stability.
Kenya Defence Forces soldiers are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia, whose mission is to restore peace and stability. They are fighting al Shabaab alongside soldiers from African nations including Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone.
Kenya has also taken in Somali refugees fleeing violence, persecution and disaster, but plans to close Dadaab refugee camp following increasing terror threats.
Godec said: “We deeply appreciate the hospitality Kenya has shown and despite the shadow cast by acts of terror, I know the future is bright for Kenya.”
The Westgate attack turned into a four-day siege that saw four men spray shoppers and staff with machine gun fire and toss grenades into crowds.
The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants later said the ambush was in retaliation for the continued stay of Kenya’s military in lawless Somalia, their homeland.