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Mandera massacre: Day of tears at Chiromo mortuary

Shock and grief engulfed Chiromo mortuary in Nairobi on Sunday as families of the Mandera bus massacre victims gathered to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Men and women, young and old, broke down after viewing disfigured bodies of relatives gunned down by Al-Shabbab terrorists, who hijacked a Nairobi-bound bus at dawn on Saturday.

Most of the victims had horrific facial wounds, blamed on close-range shooting after gunmen made them to lie on the ground, face-down.

BIRTH MARKS

Red Cross officials were on hand to console and counsel the relatives, who turned up to identify the bodies, which were airlifted to Wilson Airport by the military.

The Red Cross officials had prepared them for the worst. They were told to look for identifying features such as birth marks in case they were unable to make any identification from the shattered faces.

But by the time they came out through the opposite door across the mortuary, most could hardly stand because of the shock. A few who could speak said the bodies were badly disfigured. Most could not find words to describe what they had seen.

PREPARE BODIES

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, wearing his other cap of a medical doctor, helped prepare the bodies and console the relatives assembled at Chiromo.

“We lost 22 teachers, one clinical officer, two police officers, one carpenter and one pharmacists,” he told journalists outside the mortuary.

He said 26 bodies had been identified by Sunday afternoon. The Red Cross later posted a message on Facebook, saying all the 28 bodies had been identified.

The victims of the horrific massacre were 19 men and nine women, with Dr Khalwale saying a majority were teachers from Kakamega and Bungoma counties, and one each from Kisii, Bondo and Elgeyo Marakwet.

We have established there were two more victims — sisters from Nyeri County — who were teachers in Mandera County.

They were all heading home for the Christmas holidays.