NAIROBI, Kenya — Four police officers who risked their lives to save victims of the Westgate mall siege in Nairobi will receive special recognition and promotions, a spokesman for Kenya's police chief said Wednesday.
"It is just one way of boosting their morale and that of their colleagues," Masoud Mwinyi, spokesman for police chief David Kimaiyo said.
"The Inspector General is proud of them, and as a department we are happy with what they did," he said.
The four officers are Stephen Lelei, a local police chief who sustained a gunshot wound to his leg while fighting off the attackers; Mwinyi's driver Tawfiq Baya; Benjamin Chemjor; and Aden Iya.
At a ceremony in their honor, Chemjor recalled their intervention in the first hours of the four-day siege by Somali Shebab Islamists.
"Most of the victims were raising their hands while asking for help, we tried the best we could to save lives," he said.
"Some of them were innocent children who were brave enough to run to us even though we were armed, and we carried them away to safety outside," Chemjor added.
"I came face-to-face with them [the attackers], and that is when I sustained a gunshot wound, but we did our best to save victims," Lelei said.
The four will be promoted and will receive a medal from Kimaiyo.
The death toll for the attack, which began on September 21, stands at 67, with some 200 wounded.
Several more bodies have since been retrieved but it remains unclear if they have already been included in the death toll released by authorities.
Kenyan security forces have come in for sharp criticism over their handling of the siege, including allegations of disorganization and a failure to stop looting once the attack was over.
Authorities have promised an investigation into the reports.
© AFP 2013