22 September 2013, 21:05

Kenyan troops, intending to end a deadly siege, have launched an assault on cornered Somali militants holding hostages inside a Nairobi shopping mall, the government crisis team said Sunday. 

Police fear a 'much higher' death toll in the Kenya mall siege.

 

"Godspeed to our guys in the Westgate building," Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre said in a message on its Twitter site.

"Major engagement ongoing."

The number of people killed in the ongoing siege, which began on Saturday, is feared to rise sharply from the 59 people confirmed dead, police sources said after entering the building.

"We fear the death toll... it could be much, much higher than what we have, judging from the bodies sighted inside," a police officer said, after reports from inside of multiple corpses.

"There are more people dead inside, and some of the attackers are still armed and throwing grenades and shooting at the officers," the officer added.

The disaster centre reported "sporadic gunfire", while an AFP reporter outside the mall said a loud explosion had been heard as troops moved inside the sprawling complex.

Military and police helicopters were also reported flying overhead the mall.

Interpol offers to help Kenya deal with attack

Interpol is offering assistance to police in Kenya dealing with the Nairobi terrorist attack.

The Paris-based international police agency said it was giving priority to requests from authorities in the East African state.

Interpol could make available forensic and anti-terrorism expertise and analysis, and its database to help identify suspects through DNA samples.

French mother, daughter killed in Nairobi mall attack - minister

The two French victims who lost their lives in a militant attack on a Nairobi shopping mall were a mother and daughter who were executed in the parking lot, a minister said Sunday. Earlier today the Dutch foreign ministry said that a Dutch woman is also among those killed in a deadly militant attack.

"Two of our compatriots were cowardly attacked and executed in the parking lot of the shopping centre," said Helene Conway-Mouret, the French minister in charge of nationals living abroad.

Conway-Mouret said there were a total of seven French nationals in the posh Westgate complex at the time of the assault, which began on Saturday.

Five of them managed to flee.

One suffered bullet injuries and had been admitted in hospital but was not "in danger" she told BFM-TV.

"They are in shock," she said, referring to the five who escaped.

The minister said the French embassy in the Kenyan capital had set up a crisis cell and asked the nearly 1,500 registered French nationals to remain "vigilant."

Somalia's Islamist Shebab rebels have claimed responsibility for the carnage in Nairobi, which has left at least 59 people dead.

Kenyan forces are still besieging militants holed up in the mall.

Dutch woman killed in Nairobi mall attack - ministry

A Dutch woman is among those killed in a deadly militant attack on a Kenyan shopping mall, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

"Unfortunately one of the victims is a Dutch woman of 33," a ministry statement said.

Somalia's Islamist Shebab rebels have claimed responsibility for Saturday's carnage in Nairobi, which left at least 59 people dead.

Kenyan forces are still besieging militants holed up in the mall.Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans sent his condolences to the unnamed woman's family and to relatives of all the other victims.

Seven Dutch citizens who were in the shopping mall popular with wealthy Kenyans and expatriates escaped unharmed, the ministry said, adding that Dutch diplomats are providing support.

Lawmaker urges watch on US Somalis after Kenya attack

Putin condemns Nairobi terror attack

President Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta over a deadly terror attack at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi.

"The Russian president said that Russia resolutely condemns this terror attack and hopes that the perpetrators and gunmen will be duly punished," the Kremlin press service said.

Putin expressed his solidarity and support to the families and relatives of those killed, and wished an early recovery to the injured victims, the Kremlin press service said.

Kenyan president says nephew killed in attack

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Sunday a nephew and his fiancee were among the 59 people confirmed killed in an ongoing siege in an upmarket shopping mall by Somali militants.

"I feel the pain of every life we have lost, and share your grief at our nation's loss," Kenyatta said, calling his killed relatives "young, lovely people I personally knew and loved."

Somalia's al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels have said the carnage at the shopping complex was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.

"They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts," Kenyatta said in an emotional speech to the nation.

"We will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully."

More than 1,000 people have been rescued from the mall, but between 10 to 15 attackers - reportedly including both men and women - remain in the building "as well as many unarmed, badly shaken, innocent civilians", Kenyatta added.

Kenya's president also said on Sunday security forces confronting militants in a Nairobi shopping mall had as good a chance "as we can hope for" of neutralising the attackers and said Kenya wanted to confirm a claim of responsibility by Somali Islamists.

"The criminals are now located in one place within the building. With the professionals on site, I assure Kenyans that we have as good a chance to successfully neutralise the terrorists as we can hope for," he said in an address.

He said Somali al-Shabaab militants had said they were behind the attack that began on Saturday, but Kenya was undertaking investigations to "conclusively establish" who was responsible.

Kenyan vice president asks ICC for trial adjournment

A lawyer for Kenyan Vice President William Ruto asked the International Criminal Court on Sunday to adjourn his trial for crimes against humanity because of the deadly militant attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.

"The defence for Mr William Samoei Ruto urgently requests... the trial chamber adjourn the trial proceedings in this case in order that Mr Ruto can return to Kenya to deal with an ongoing and extremely serious matter of national security," the request from his lawyer said.

Ruto is currently in The Hague where he is defending himself against charges of masterminding some of the 2007-08 post-election violence that left over 1,000 people dead and several hundred thousand displaced.

"In view of the seriousness of the situation and the fact that it is ongoing, the defence respectfully prays that a decision is rendered on this request today on an expedited and urgent basis," the request said.

"Mr Ruto... is required to return to Kenya to discharge his ordinary constitutional duties which include participating in security briefings and consultations and involvement in other onнgoing and very sensitive national security investigations," it added.

Ruto, 46, and his co-accused, Kenyan radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 38, stand accused of stoking the worst violence in the east African country since independence in 1963.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is also charged with crimes against humanity, and his trial is due to start in November.

Three Britons dead in Nairobi attack - London

Three Britons have been confirmed dead in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall by Somali Islamist militants and the British toll is likely to rise, the Foreign Office in London said Sunday.

"Three British nationals are confirmed dead. The next of kin of those nationals have been informed," a ministry spokesman said.

"The number of British nationals confirmed as killed is likely to rise as further information becomes available."

Prime Minister David Cameron described the attack in the Kenyan capital, which has so far left 59 people confirmed dead, as "an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality".

Foreign Secretary William Hague chaired a meeting of the government's crisis committee in London to discuss the incident in the Kenyan capital, his department said in a statement.

William Hague said the government's emergencies committee COBRA had met for a second time Sunday over the ongoing siege at the upmarket Westgate mall.

French, Canadian, Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Ghanaian citizens are among those confirmed to have been killed in the siege at the mall, which is popular with wealthy Kenyans and expatriates.

Nairobi mall attack: Death toll rises to 59

Fifty-nine people are confirmed dead in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, Kenya's interior minister said Sunday.

"We still have hostages in the mall, and this makes the operation delicate. We have 59 people who have been killed so far," Joseph Ole Lenku said.

Kenyan government and Western diplomatic sources said al Shabaab militants were holding about 30 hostages inside the shopping center.

Anatoly Savateyev, senior fellow at the Center of Civilization and Regional Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Africa Institute, believes that the blame for the al-Shabaad attack lies partly with the Kenyan police. Speaking to the Voice of Russia, Mr. Savateyev said one shouldn’t rule out "slipshod attitude" of the local law enforcement in the face of Islamism danger.

"The authority, particularly local police, missed the emergence of these militants, considering that this Westgate mall attracts mainly foreigners. In this case the responsibility lies, unfortunately with law enforcement, I reckon."

Mr. Savateyev also suggested that the Nairobi attack was inspired by the Syrian conflict.

"Al-Shabaab seems to have been inspired by what is going on in Syria, Libya and Egypt. The brute force scenario must have occurred to them too. If it’s really al-Shabaab’s doing. I think Kenyans have part in it."

 

Israeli forces enter Nairobi mall - security source

Israeli forces have joined Kenyan efforts to end a deadly siege by Somali militants at a Nairobi shopping mall, a security source said Sunday.

"The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured," the source told AFP on condition he not be named.

In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson refused to confirm or deny that its forces were involved."We don't make a habit of commenting on security cooperation of any kind that there may or may not be," he said.

The attack on the part Israeli-owned upmarket mall has left at least 59 dead and around 200 wounded, Kenyan officials said.

The intervention came 26 hours after gunmen walked into the complex, tossing grenades and spraying gunfire at shoppers and staff.

Kenya communicating with gunmen holding out at mall

The Kenyan government has been communicating with al-Qaeda-linked militants holding out at a mall in Nairobi where they killed 59 people, says former prime minister Raila Odinga.

"There is communication between them (attackers) and the political leaders of the country," Odinga told journalists at a hospital in the capital.

"It is a difficult operation. Every effort will be made to rescue the hostages," he added.

Earlier Red Cross has reported 43 people have been killed and more than 200 others wounded in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, the Kenyan Red Cross said Sunday.

"So far 43 have been confirmed dead and over 200 wounded," Red Cross chief Abbas Gullet said.

10 to 15 gunmen still inside shopping mall - minister

Some 10 to 15 gunmen are still battling security forces inside Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Kenya's interior minster said Sunday.

"A number of attackers are still in the building, and range between ten to fifteen gunmen," Joseph Ole Lenku said in statement. "We believe there are some innocent people in the building, that is why the operation is delicate."

Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, dpa, TASS, Interfax

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