A yet-to-be-ascertained number of gun-wielding men on Friday morning attacked the Delta Mall in Warri, popularly known as ‘Shoprite’ after the chain store that dominates the mall.
The Delta ‘Shoprite’ Mall in Warri; credit: New York Tmes
While there is as yet no official confirmation of the attack, social media users who were present at the mall at the time of the invasion suggest it was an armed robbery attack.
A number of Twitter users indicated that many mall-goers were seen dashing for safety after one shopper was shot by the armed men.
Another Twitter user who claimed to have been present at the mall said he took to his heels to escape danger, emphasizing that it was a robbery situation.
It is unclear if some citizens were temporarily held hostage by the gunmen but there are a few tweets to that effect. There are also speculations as to the identity of the attackers.
The relatively new mall in Warri was the subject of a recent New York Times article titled ‘Nigeria Goes to The Mall’ which met with varying reactions among Nigerians. While some praised the honesty of the report, many others criticized the writer for being condescending.
Some of the reactions criticized the writer for placing undue emphasis on the presence of air conditioning units in the mall, which he described as “so silent, omnipresent and soothing.”
“Some had stepped inside places like this during trips to the United States, Europe or even Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, which got its first one just a couple of years ago.
“Others were “Johnny-Just-Come” first-time visitors, standing confused before sensor-activated doors. They drew smiles from veterans who had already been once or twice to the newest and biggest attraction in this Nigerian city in recent memory: a gleaming shopping mall.
“I’m very, very, very excited,” said John Monday, who had traveled nearly 200 miles to visit the mall here on a recent Saturday afternoon, as a friend took a photo of him posing in front of a supermarket. “A middle-class person can come into this mall and feel a sense of belonging.”
“Delta Mall opened here last spring, bringing to about a dozen the number of Western-style shopping malls catering to 180 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.”
We await reports of police investigation into the Friday morning incident. Meanwhile, here are some photos from the scene:
One of the shops attacked; credit: Afunzo (Twitter)
A section of the mall after the attack; credit: Afunzo (Twitter)
A part of the mall after the attack; credit: Afunzo (Twitter)