KENYANS living in Port Elizabeth frantically contacted relatives and friends in Nairobi when news of the attack at the Westgate Mall emerged at the weekend. Although heartbroken by the violence that had left many innocent people dead, they were relieved that no one they knew was among the victims.
Grace Njuguna, from the Masai Land near Nairobi, said she was particularly hard hit by the news as she had returned home last week and shopped at the mall.
"I feel very pained for my countr y,” she said.
"The images coming out of there, of people carrying babies out of the mall, really got to me.
"Just last week I was home and shopped at the mall,” she said.
"All we can do is pray that God protects our people and brings peace.
"The footage on TV is too painful to watch. The world is coming to an end – Syria is burning and it seems so is everywhere else. God must come down now.”
Njuguna could not understand how armed men had accessed the mall as there were metal detectors at the mall’s entrances.
"How did they get in with their ammunition?
"Honestly now, this intolerance of one another is too much.”
Lillian Makindu, 38, from Kakamega in Western Kenya, said although she was shocked by the attack, it was a regular occurrence for "people to kill others based on religious beliefs”.
"It hurts, but talking about this doesn’t help because it’s not the first time [this has happened]. It happens all the time.
"But we were shocked that they [terrorists] took it to the mall where there are hundreds of innocents,” she said.
"I immediately called home to find out if people were okay.
"Thankfully, everyone is but my heart still bleeds for those who lost their loved ones.”
Eric Akala, 35, also of Kakamega, said the violence "was wrong on so many levels”.
"A Kenyan colleague of mine called to alert me and I called to check on people at home.
"I was really shocked when I heard because innocent civilians who have nothing to do with anything are being targeted,” he said.
"Countries need to stand together to fight terrorism, which is a major problem the world over.”