Local Perspective: Kenyan Students Speak About Deadly Attack on Nairobi Mall

Published 09/24 2013 06:17PM

Updated 09/24 2013 10:52PM

NORMAL - While life is stressful for most college students, not much can compare with the week Illinois State University student Habiba Alambo has had.

"I woke up with a lot of text messages and emails and what not, and my phone was going crazy,” she recalls.

A native to Nairobi, Alambo has visited the Westgate Shopping Center dozens of times.

"It’s like one of the busiest malls.  It was horrible,” said Alambo.  “They’re just bad people."

On Saturday Islamists from Somalia’s al Shabaab launched a deadly attack on the crowded facility.

"It was really strategic for these militia guys to pick the place,” said ISU student Benjamin Mwaura.  “It’s something that's been going on a small scale for awhile…but right now, they came full force."

Mwaura is also from Nairobi.

He talks with family everyday but since the tragedy he's calling more to ensure their safety is intact.

Mwaura admits he feels helpless being so far away from his homeland.

"There’s nothing much I can do I can only watch and pray that everybody will be safe and the government will try to protect people as we go forward,” he said.  “You find all these terrorist threats are kind of everywhere.  There are implications to everybody.”

This isn't the first attack on Kenya.

But the students say their country is a strong nation with strong people, and they're confident it can pull together to rise above the violence.

"We are still prosperous so, I mean, for the people who are trying to damage that, this wouldn't work,” said Alambo.

"I keep praying for them, they keep praying for me,” said Mwaura.  “As long as they're good, I’m good."

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