Kiwi describes escape from Nairobi mall siege

Last updated 18:35 23/09/2013
Greg Aldous
GO, GO, GO: Greg Aldous followed instructions to run to safety away from snipers.

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A New Zealander feared he would be killed because of his skin colour by Islamist terrorists who rampaged through a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Greg Aldous, 40, had to run for cover, then hide before fleeing from snipers, as gunshots rang out around him in the Westgate mall.

"They were coming in through the front, they were coming through the back, and we were just sitting ducks," Aldous said of the attack which started about noon on Saturday local time.

"These are Islamic fundamentalist nut-cases, they just shoot and kill anybody, they are horrible people," he told Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser.

"If they had found me ... I'm white so I'm dead. They're not even going to think twice," he said. "They hate your skin colour." 

The ongoing attack on the mall left at least 68 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

Speaking to Fairfax Media today, Aldous said he was in a group of about 50 people who tried to get out through a supermarket's emergency exit.

"But there were snipers on the roofs so we couldn't actually get out.

"Then of course the gunmen had already entered the supermarket, so we were basically trapped, and the crowd was just running back and forth panicking."

Feeling terrified, he jumped into a box where he waited for about 20 minutes until things calmed down.

"I never saw any of the gunmen. I heard some very, very close gunfire when I was hiding, so they may have actually come straight past me, but fortunately they never saw me."

A man was shot near him, shortly before two Englishmen "just came along and basically rescued us".

The Englishmen appeared to be some kind of security staff. They had walkie-talkies and one had a hand-gun.

"They knew exactly what they were doing. They were trained," he said.

"They basically figured out where the snipers were and saw the route for us to take where we would have maximum cover."

About  1pm he and the others in the group escaped along a driveway where the snipers could not spot them.

"I just heard more gunfire and these guys said 'go'. I did what they told me to," Aldous said.

He got to the front of the building to find a crowd of hundreds of onlookers, as gunfire continued inside the mall. Then as he made his way out a gate a fresh burst of gunfire in front of the mall caused a mass stampede.

"By that time I was out of the whole compound and just sprinted off up the road until I was well out of view. Then I called my driver to pick me up."

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An old boy of Hutt Valley Memorial College, Aldous is a creative director at advertising agency Ogilvy Africa.

Despite the ordeal, he was back at work today, saying "best just to get on with it".

At the weekend the agency, which covered sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa, had won a bunch of industry awards. "Work's going very well," he said.

The "isolated" incident had "not really" changed his view about living in Nairobi, he said.

Then he added: "I'll see how I feel in a few weeks. If something like this happens again I'll probably be more inclined to seriously think about leaving."

Another Kiwi, 34-year-old Andrew McLaren, of Hawke's Bay, survived the attack despite after being shot in the back.

- Fairfax Media

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