Hero Brits who helped save lives in Kenya mall terror attack finally revealed as former SAS man and Welsh Ranger


THE screams of shoppers mingled with bursts of AK-47 gunfire and occasional grenade blasts.

The panicked crowd was desperate to flee the massacre in the upmarket shopping centre — yet amid the carnage two un-armed men were fighting against the human tide, determined to make their way into the danger.

Four attackers stormed a shopping mall in Kenya in 2013 killing 67 people


Four attackers stormed a shopping mall in Kenya in 2013 killing 67 peopleCredit: AP:Associated Press
Cardiff-born former SAS soldier Taff Groves didn’t think twice about heading into danger


Cardiff-born former SAS soldier Taff Groves didn’t think twice about heading into dangerCredit: Supplied
Ex-Irish Ranger Lorcan Byrne was Taff’s security manager in Nairobi and knew the mall’s layout


Ex-Irish Ranger Lorcan Byrne was Taff’s security manager in Nairobi and knew the mall’s layoutCredit: PT Podcast

And ten years later their bravery is recalled by one survivor who said: “They’ll always remain close to angels for us — lifetime heroes God sent.”

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in which 62 civilians, including four Brits, were murdered and around 200 seriously wounded.

Former Royal Marine Major Dominic Troulan won the George Cross for his actions that day, yet two other former soldiers who saved hundreds from the slaughter have never been officially recognised.

Today The Sun can name them as ex-SAS soldier Taff Groves and former Irish Ranger Lorcan Byrne, and reveal the previously untold story of their remarkable heroism.

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Taff, the global security adviser for a logistics firm, was in Nairobi for a meeting with Lorcan, 47, his local security manager, when reports first came in of a shooting at the mall.

They discovered a work colleague and his wife were at the mall and after texting them to say they were on their way, Taff and Lorcan jumped in a car, then forced their way on foot for the last hundred yards through the fleeing crowds.

They could already hear the gunfire and explosions and see dead, dying and seriously injured casualties littering the approach to the mall where four al-Shabaab terrorists had started their bloodthirsty rampage but forged on, ignoring the danger.

Using Lorcan’s local knowledge, they decided to try to enter the mall via the underground car park, moving from pillar to pillar towards the back of a supermarket.

Cardiff-born Taff, who is in his 50s and spent 30 years in the SAS, recalled: “We heard lots of shooting so we started to walk towards it.

“That might not seem the best idea, but then we saw a lot of rounds flying and it was almost like we were right on top of the terrorists.”

They retreated to a loading bay where they discovered up to 200 terrified staff and shoppers hiding under trucks, in bins or behind trolleys.

Taff said: “People had just frozen and they were too scared to do anything.

“In groups we started to co- ordinate them and told them, ‘Listen to the bursts of fire’.

“As the bursts stopped we said, ‘Right, run!’ and we began running them out to the exit point.”

At that moment they got a text from their Canadian colleague Herman Lang and his wife Noella to say they had barricaded themselves with dozens of others in a store room at the back of the Onami restaurant on the other side of the mall, and there was shooting inside the restaurant.

Taff and Lorcan found four frightened Kenyan police and security guards in the loading area.

They refused to give them their weapons but agreed to accompany them up one of the service stairwells, which echoed with the sounds of gunfire and explosions.

On reaching the third floor, they positioned one of the police with an AK-47 rifle to guard against any return by the terrorists.

Then they banged on the rear door of the nearby Java Café — and discovered dozens more terrified shoppers who they guided to safety down the service stairwell.

From the café, Taff and Lorcan could now see down on to the rooftop car park where a children’s cookery competition had been under way when the terrorists arrived.

The killers had opened fire and thrown grenades into the crowd of men, women and children, and returned more than once to repeat the atrocity.

Lorcan said: “There were bodies littered everywhere between trestle tables of food and cooking counters.

“In the covered area I counted at least 30 dead and more wounded. People were bleeding to death from horrible injuries.

“A pregnant woman had been shot in the stomach and then in the face.

“There were dead children in overturned buggies.

“A mother was rocking her child in her arms and begging for help but I had to keep pushing on, because there was nothing I could do with so many dead and wounded.”

They found a group of around 150 people huddled in the corner of the car park, panic-stricken and screaming, with an unexploded grenade on the floor in front of them.

As Lorcan moved them towards the Java Café, Taff guided them to safety.

Taff said: “It was a right mess. We were looking them in the eyes and talking to them and getting them down the stairs.

“Where I could, I got them to help someone else so it took their minds off the trauma. Convincing them to move was not easy.”

Then a couple of the terrorists appeared on a roof above them and began firing again, hitting one or two of the fleeing shoppers.

Shoppers flee down escalator in the shopping mall


Shoppers flee down escalator in the shopping mallCredit: Reuters
A Kenyan soldier inside the mall


A Kenyan soldier inside the mallCredit: AFP

All the time Taff and Lorcan were asking if anyone had a weapon, and when one man volunteered his pistol and 15 rounds, it was decided that Lorcan, who knew the mall’s layout, would go with one of the armed policemen to try to reach the Onami restaurant.

Meanwhile, Taff carried on evacuating traumatised people from the car park.

Taff, who was still an SAS reservist at the time, told Lorcan: “See you in Valhalla!”

He then contacted SAS HQ in Hereford to tell them about what was happening and what he knew.

As soon as Lorcan reached the top floor he came under fire from the terrorists and returned three shots.

But as he ran for cover he nearly knocked himself out when he slipped on hundreds of empty shell cases and hit his head on the marble floor.


At that point the policeman refused to go any further.

As two terrorists again closed in on him, Lorcan fired another four rounds, and said: “I definitely hit one of them and one of them had a stoppage (his gun jammed) and they took off.”

Reaching the restaurant, Lorcan texted Herman Lang to tell him to open the storeroom door.

He then told the Canadian to hold on to Lorcan’s belt, and his wife to hold on to her husband’s belt, then he ran back towards where he knew Taff had secured their escape route, with around 60 more people following, each holding on to the person in front in a bizarre conga line.

As they ran for their lives, terrorists shot at them again and Lorcan fired four more rounds at the killers.

Meanwhile, Taff treated casualties, tearing up strips of table cloth and using trestle tables as makeshift stretchers while moving the walking wounded down the stairs, and as soon as Lorcan returned he helped to direct the new escapees to safety.

While Lorcan took the Langs to a waiting car, Taff returned to street level to try to persuade local police and a Kenyan army general to send forces back with him to the mall.

He was captured on video as he argued his case, but the general insisted on waiting for a Swat team.

Taff and Lorcan then returned to the mall with other volunteers and continued treating casualties in the rooftop car park for another couple of hours as medical help eventually arrived.

By around 4pm, only the dead remained, so Taff and Lorcan headed back to their office.

All four gunmen were killed.

The next day Taff left Kenya and his and Lorcan’s part in the rescue was only known to those they had helped.

British Kenyans Amanda and Simon Belcher were among them, having hidden under cars while the terrorists sprayed the cookery competition area with bullets and grenades.

Safari leader Simon had almost bled to death after a bullet went through his chest and out through his arm while he lay protecting three-year-old Subh Galot and his nanny under his car.

Amanda said: “If it wasn’t for Taff and Lorcan we would not be alive. We cannot put into words how grateful we are.”

Subh’s mother Rita Galot, who had become separated from her children during the mayhem, learned from their nanny how Taff and Lorcan had helped them to safety and she said: “They’ll always remain close to angels for us — lifetime heroes God sent.”

Herman Lang said: “I remember Taff standing guard at the top of the steps in the café and directing us down the stairwell, and Noella remembers him very clearly. He asked if she was OK.

“We ran down the stairs to a loading dock, Lorcan in front and Taff guarding behind us.

“I remember the stairwell walls were covered in smeared blood from the hands of all the people going down, and a very fresh blood trail on the stair treads.”

Taff has been reluctant to accept any plaudits when there were so many other acts of bravery that day.

He said: “If you are an ex-soldier you have a massive advantage over someone who has never experienced those kinds of situations.

“When you’ve been trained, there’s no second thoughts. Any soldier would be the same, because you can’t do nothing.

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“We just happened to be there on the day. I never thought about it. It was just, ‘Well, let’s go and see what we can do’, so we did.

“There wasn’t any real plan.”

Taff and Lorcan help casualties after the attack


Taff and Lorcan help casualties after the attackCredit: Supplied
Former Royal Marine Major Dominic Troulan won the George Cross


Former Royal Marine Major Dominic Troulan won the George CrossCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
A child runs to safety during massacre


A child runs to safety during massacreCredit: Reuters

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