Kenya security personnel take cover outside the Westgate Mall after shooting started inside the mall early Monday morning, Sept. 23, 2013. Kenya's military launched a major operation at the upscale Nairobi mall and said it had rescued "most" of the hostages being held captive by al-Qaida-linked militants during the standoff that killed at least 68 people and injured 175. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
Kenya may seem millions of miles away, but for one East Tennessee family it's close to their hearts. Dr. Aaron Jones, his wife and two young daughters just got back from Kenya. They were there for a year long mission trip.
Aaron Jones says, "When I heard the news, I could see myself being in that situation. It's just very shocking."
He just returned from Africa a month ago. He cared for hundreds of families there. So when he saw the news of how more than a dozen terrorists stormed the mall in Nairobi, he was stunned. Jones says, "My heart goes out to all those families. Just thousands affected. There's some violence, but on this scale it's really unexpected."
Dr. Jones has been watching his Kenyan friends' updates on Facebook. He says the malls hire security guards who look under cars with mirrors, but those guards are only armed with billy sticks.
Jones says, "You almost walk in and feel like you're in America or Europe somewhere. They have eally nice malls and nice stores."
He's worried this act of terrorism will spark more violence. He's concerned that other Americans may think twice about going there to help or visit. Jones says, "Anytime anything like this happens, it shakes Westererns' ideas of what's safe and what's not safe and decreases their tourism."
Dr. Jones tells me he's not going back to Kenya, but he is going on another mission. He also says heard of the terrorist group at fault.
They made one previous threat on the Kenyan people two years ago.
As for the hostage situation, Kenyan officials say they have the situation under control. There are however still terrorists in the mall.