Westgate Shopping Centre: Terrorist Attack

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written statement – made on 8th October 2013.

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Photo of William Hague William Hague The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I would like to inform the House about the Government’s response following the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping centre in the Westlands area of Nairobi between 21 and 24 September. In doing so, I wish to repeat our message of profound sympathy to the Kenyan Government and the Kenyan people affected by this incident. I also, once again, express our condolences to the families and friends of the British citizens, and other nationals, killed in the attack. As the Prime Minister said on 22 September this was

“”an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality”.

Within hours of the terrorist attack unfolding on Saturday 21 September, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office activated its 24-hour crisis response centre. Travel advice, including details of the FCO emergency helpline number, was issued on 21 September advising UK nationals to avoid the area around the Westgate shopping centre. Also on 21 September, the Prime Minister spoke to the Kenyan Government to express the condolences of the British people and to offer any assistance we could provide.

Six British nationals were killed in the attack and three were injured and hospitalised. We were in touch with the next of kin and provided consular support and assistance to the families. A rapid deployment team was sent to Nairobi on 21 September to support the work of our High Commission in providing assistance to British nationals. Extra assistance measures, designed to provide additional support and assistance to British nationals in crisis situations, were activated. We have also been liaising closely with other Governments with affected citizens to share information on the situation and our response.

In response to a Kenyan request, the UK was able to provide assistance at the scene in the identification of bodies and the collection of forensic evidence. Other UK support has included the provision of rations and medical supplies to the Aga Khan hospital where many of the wounded victims were taken. We have continued to work closely with the Kenyan authorities and other international experts in providing expert support for the Kenyan-led operations.

The UK-Kenya partnership is strong and wide. We work together on many shared goals. The UK and Kenya have a mutual interest in tackling terrorist threats. In line with the UK’s overall approach to addressing terrorism overseas, we are committed to helping Kenya strengthen its capacity to investigate, prosecute and detain terrorists in line with international human rights obligations. Our support also extends to helping Kenya strengthen its borders and counter security threats that emanate from across its international borders. In recent years, this has included capacity building, training and the provision of specialised equipment. We will continue to discuss opportunities for co-operation with the Kenyan Government.