Kenyan special forces were today locked in a fight to the death with Islamic terrorists who have been barricaded inside a Nairobi mall with up to 40 hostages since Saturday.
Witnesses described hearing four large explosions at the Westgate Shopping Centre followed by fierce gun fire after the military tried to break the three day siege by gaining access from the roof.
It is feared that some of the gunmen inside may have blown themselves up, though a Kenyan government minister said that militants had set fire to some mattresses in a supermarket as a decoy.
Update: It’s been confirmed that the terrorists didn’t blow themselves up, they set ablaze mattresses they got from one of the supermarkets in the mall, as a diversion. The terrorists have been corned in one of the rooms inside the mall.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that two of the terrorists had been killed and that most hostages were now free. All of the militants were men, he added, although some were dressed as women. So far, 69 people have been confirmed dead. At least 175 were injured, including children.
A top military official said he believes the attackers are ‘a multinational collection from all over the world.’
Kenya Chief of Defence forces General Julius Karangi said fighters from an array of nations participated in the attack claimed by Al Shabaab, a Somali group allies with al-Qaida.
‘We have an idea who this people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world,’ he said. We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number. We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient intel (intelligence) to suggest that.’
A Twitter account claiming to represent Al Shabaab yesterday claimed that terrorists from seven nations are involved in the attack, including the U.S., Britain and Canada.
The HSM Press Office account, which has been suspended twice, claimed the group were:
Names of alleged terrorists
Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, from London, UK;
Gen Mustafe Noorduiin, 27, from Kansas City, U.S.,
Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid, 24, from Minneapolis, U.S.,
Ahmed Mohamad Isse, 22, from Saint Paul, U.S;
Ismael Guled, 23, from Finland;
Abdirizak Mouled, 24, from Ontario, Canada;
Zaki Jama Caraale, 20, and Sayid Nuh, 25, both from Somalia.
Police chief David Kimaiyo said today that some hostages have been freed. However, a group claiming to represent the Al Shabaab terrorists said they are still fighting inside the building.
Names of victims
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew and nephew’s fiancee were killed
Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, professor and former ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations, died after being wounded in the attack, Ghana’s presidential office confirmed.
Ghana’s ministry of information said Awoonor’s son was injured and is responding to treatment.
Two Canadians, including a diplomat, died in the attack, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He paid tribute to the victims and noted the loss of diplomat Annemarie Desloges, who served in Canada’s High Commission to Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency.
Her spouse Robert Munk was wounded in the attack, but has since been released from the hospital, the Canadian Press reported.
Two Indians, 8-year-old Parmashu Jain and 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan, were killed, and four others were wounded in the attack.
The Foreign Office have confirmed that four UK nationals have been killed in the attack.
Prize-winning architect Ross Langdon, who had dual British and Australian citizenship, is believed to be one of the dead.
A British man, who refused to give his name, said his wife and daughter were both killed in the atrocity.
The Foreign Office warned the number of British dead is ‘likely to rise as further information becomes available.’
Two French women were killed, President Francois Hollande said.
One South African citizen was killed, according to the country’s International Relations Department.
A 33-year-old Dutch woman died in the attack, believed to be Elif Yavuz, the heavily pregnant partner of British architect Mr Langdon.
Seven other Dutch citizens who were in the mall escaped unharmed, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman with the surname Zhou who worked in the real estate industry was killed in the attack, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Her son was injured in the attack and was in stable condition in a hospital, according to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya.
A retired staff member of UNICEF from Peru was killed, the agency’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa said.
Five American citizens were injured, U.S. officials said.
Andrew McLaren, 34, a New Zealander who managed a factory in Kenya for the avocado oil company Olivado, was wounded in the attack, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed. He was hospitalised in stable condition.
Source: UK Daily Mail