Kenyan Blogger Makes Name Covering Mall Attack
Robert Alai using Twitter, Facebook, network of sources
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2013 11:35 AM CDT
Ann Gakii, left, reacts at the Nairobi City Mortuary after identifying the body of her father.   (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

(Newser) – At one point during the Nairobi mall standoff, Kenya's information ministry informed the public that a fire at the mall had been extinguished. Just one problem with that, pointed out Kenyan blogger Robert Alai in a tweet: The fire was still blazing away on live TV. "Interior Ministry not helping with wrong info," he wrote. Alai has been covering the attack on social media and winning plenty of praise and followers, reports the Epoch Times. “I realized that the government was trying to contain and manage news flow without offering credible information about the attack,” Alai tells the site. “I decided to defy police and government warning on anybody reporting what the police had not confirmed.”

With the the good comes the bad—Alai at one pointed retweeted a photo purportedly of the siege that actually was from an explosion in May. But on the flip side, he was among the first to report that Kenya's president had lost a nephew in the attack and that witnesses saw a white woman among the assailants, possibly Samantha Lewthwaite, the notorious widow of a terrorist. The LA Times calls Alai a "prominent figure on Kenyan social networks" and picks up on another his tweets: "There is a side of this story we should talk about when all is over. The police casualties. Friendly fire. Huge."