Kenya mall siege: chilling similarities with 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai There are chilling similarities between the horrific attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall and Mumbai's November 26, 2008 attacks, also known as the 26/11 attacks.

For Ramesh Gulati, a survivor of the 26/11 mayhem, the Kenya bloodbath is deja vu all over again. Mr Gulati, a businessman, was at a dinner at the Taj Mahal Hotel when Ajmal Kasab and his accomplices attacked the iconic property.

Along with dozens of Indians and foreigners, Mr Gulati spent 12 nightmarish hours crouching under the tables at the restaurant inside the hotel, soaked in sheer dread and uncertainty.

And so, he says, he understands exactly what those trapped in Nairobi's Westgate mall reeling under the siege of terrorists must be going through.
 
"26/11 was a horrifying experience and when you see these things happening again, you feel shaken up because these are attacks on innocent people," he says.

His wife, who actually witnessed Ajmal Kasab open fire on Mumbai policemen when they came to the rescue, says watching the Kenya attacks made her feel vulnerable again. "It has brought back chilling memories of what I have undergone in 2008. I can visualize exactly what is going on in Kenya, not just the fear of people who are inside but the anxiety of relatives outside. I empathize with them," she says.
 
Like the Mumbai attacks, the Nairobi gunmen armed with AK 47s stormed a crowded public space spraying gunfire, tossing grenades, killing and wounding dozens and taking hostages before holing themselves up.

In both cases, the terror attack came from across the border. In Mumbai, Kasab and his accomplices from Pakistan withheld India's financial nerve center for over 60 hours; in Kenya, the security forces battle the Al Shabaab militants from neighbouring Somalia for a third day today.

And the targets in both cases: mostly foreigners.

The theatre of 26/11 was spread out across south Mumbai from Leopold Cafe, VT station, Taj Mahal Hotel, Trident Hotel and Nariman House, the Jewish centre. The Nairobi attack, however, is restricted to the posh and sprawling Westgate Mall, incidentally co-owned by a Muslim and a Jew.
Story First Published: September 23, 2013 21:52 IST

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