Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Kenya announces victory over mall attackers

Kenya's president, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, on Tuesday announced the nation's victory over a four-day struggle with Islamist militants at the Westgate mall, Nairobi.

In a televised address, Kenyattta said five of the gunmen were killed in the fighting.

He said, "We have shamed and defeated our attackers. Five terrorists have been killed in the attack. Eleven others have been arrested over possible connections to the attack while 61 civilians and six security officers are dead.

"During efforts to clear the terrorists, three floors of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi collapsed, trapping bodies inside."

The four-day ordeal in which Kenyan forces battled Al-Shabaab terrorists for control of the upscale mall is also said to have left 62 people in the hospital and Kenya's reputation as a bulwark of African stability, in tatters.

Earlier in the day, sporadic gunfire could be heard coming from the mall as authorities made their final sweeps through the building.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, 175 people were injured.

The fate of civilians who may have still been hiding inside the mall or held hostage by terrorists remained unclear. Earlier, Kenyan authorities had said they believed all hostages had been freed, but the Red Cross said 65 people remained unaccounted for.

Witnesses said the gunmen went from store to store, shooting people, and then took hostages.

Somalia's Al-Shabaab Islamist group however insists that its militants were still holed up in the mall  and that there were "countless dead bodies." Raising fears the death toll could be higher than 62.

"There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen (fighters) are still holding their ground at the mall," the group said on its Twitter feed.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.

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