Local Kenyan keeps close eye on mall massacre

12:13 AM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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BRANDON, Florida - While the mall massacre in Kenya might seem like a world away for most Americans, it hit close to home for a Brandon resident.

Lawrence Okayo spent the weekend making sure that family and friends in and around Nairobi were not hurt in the terrorist attack that started on Saturday.

Okayo said he has received information that all of his immediate family is okay, but with the situation still ongoing, there is a lot of concern.

"Until everybody is accounted for, you know, you can never tell. It could be a friend," said the 56-year-old who moved to the Bay area eight years ago.

The Somali militant group al-Shabaab, armed with assault rifles and grenades, stormed the Westgate Mall on Saturday, killing 68 people and injuring 175.

"These are terrorists, you know. These are evil-minded people, you know. They go out and they kill innocent people," said Okayo, who has followed the latest out of the country on television and the Internet.

At least five Americas were killed in the deadliest attack in the country since terrorists blew up the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998.

By Sunday night, the Kenya military said that most of the hostages had been freed and many of the terrorist killed.

While it remains unclear how the U.S. and the international community will respond to the attack, Okayo continues to digest the magnitude of the massacre back home.

"It's sad, you know, that people died. Very innocent people," he said.

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