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Nairobi live: Al Shabab says killing of foreigners legitimate

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10.32 pm: Ghana mourns loss of Kofi Awoonor

Mourners sang funeral dirges and traditional leaders poured libations on Wednesday for beloved poet Kofi Awoonor as hundreds gathered at the airport where his body was brought home days after he was slain in the Kenya mall terror attack.

Awoonor, 78, was a literary icon in his native Ghana, and was known worldwide for his innovative style that translated the rhythms of his Ewe language into English. He also was a veteran diplomat, and top government officials and members of parliament came to the airport.

Awoonor had been in Kenya with his son to take part in the Storymoja Hay Festival, a four-day literary event, when he was among the more than 60 civilians killed at the Nairobi mall.

"It is a big tree that has fallen," said his brother, Robert, who was among those gathered at the airport.

Kofi Awoonor was the eldest of 10 children in his family, and relatives said he had paid school fees for hundreds of people. The poet and university professor also had served as Ghana's ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations.

Awoonor was one of the pioneers of African literature "who used literature as a tool of emancipation, of independence and of African unity," said Malian writer Manthia Diawara.

10.23 pm: Al Shabab says killing of foreigners legitimate

Al-Shabab, the armed Somali Islamic extremist group that attacked a shopping mall in Kenya, said on Wednesday that foreigners were a “legitimate target” and confirmed witness accounts that gunmen tried to let Muslims go free while killing or taking the others captive.

In an email exchange on Wednesday with The Associated Press, al-Shabab said the jihadis “carried out a meticulous vetting process” so the Muslims would not be harmed. According to published accounts, witnesses have said the gunmen rounded up people, asked questions about Islam that a Muslim would know and told the Muslims to leave the mall.

At least 18 foreigners were killed, including six Britons, citizens from France, Canada, Trinidad, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China, when the militants entered the Westgate Mall on Saturday, slaughtering men, women and children with assault rifles and grenades. The current death toll is 67 and is likely to climb with uncounted bodies remaining in the rubble of the Nairobi mall.

“The Mujahideen carried out a meticulous vetting process at the mall and have taken every possible precaution to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar (disbelievers) before carrying out their attack,” al-Shabab said in an email from the HSM Press Office. HSM are the initials of al-Shabab’s full name in Arabic.

Al-Shabab had threatened retaliation against Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia. Asked if al-Shabab intended to kill foreigners in the mall attack, the group said “our target was to attack the Kenyan government on it’s soil and any part of the Kenyan territory is a legitimate target for HSM… and Kenya should be held responsible for the loss of life, whether foreigners or local.”

Many of those killed in an attack that horrified the world were Kenyans. Al-Shabab controlled much of Somalia, which borders Kenya to the east, for several years, including most of the capital Mogadishu. African Union forces pushed the al-Qaida-affiliated group out of Mogadishu in 2011 and Kenya sent in troops that year, further squeezing the group into smaller territory in Somalia’s south.

Al-Shabab has responded with attacks against government and AU targets in Somalia, usually suicide bombings, but has also set off bombs at a college graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, at restaurants and other locations, killing Muslim civilians. Asked if the separation of Muslims from non-Muslims represented a change in tactics, the group insisted in an email that it “has never deliberately targeted Muslims.”

“Our targets have always been disbelievers, invaders and the apostate governments officials/troops who are allied with them,” it said. Al-Shabab, whose name means “The Youth” in Arabic, has said the mall attack was in retribution for Kenyan forces’ push into Somalia.

6.33 pm: US experts helping Kenya to search for bodies

The United States Ambassador to Kenya says US experts are helping Kenyan forces search for bodies and evidence in the collapsed mall that Islamic terrorists held for four days.

Robert F Godec to The Associated Press that the US is providing technical support and equipment to Kenyan security forces and medical responders.

The death toll, currently at 67, is expected to rise as bodies are retrieved.

Godec said, at the request of the Kenyan government, the US will assist investigating the attack to bring its organizers and perpetrators to justice.

3.01 pm: al-Shabab accuses Kenya of using explosives, chemical weapons to end siege

The militant group behind the four-day takeover of a Nairobi mall claim Kenyan government forces used explosives in carrying out "a demolition" of the building, burying 137 hostages.

In a Tweet Wednesday from an account believed to be genuine, al-Shabab also claimed that "having failed to defeat the mujahideen inside the mall, the Kenyan govt disseminated chemical gases to end the siege."

Government spokesman Manoah Esipisu immediately denied the claim, saying that no chemical weapons were used and that the official civilian death toll remains 61. He says three floors of the building collapsed after a fire started by the al-Shabab attackers caused structural weakness.

 

(Associated Press)

2.08 pm: Terror alert in Mumbai, Delhi following Nairobi attack

Security alerts have been issued for Mumbai and Delhi following the Nairobi mall attack and a suicide bombing in a Peshawar church.

Security is being reviewed in malls, churches and five star hotels in Mumbai, CNN-IBN reported.

Earlier a report in the Times of India quoting sources, said, " Intelligence alerts have been received about al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba extending support to Indian Mujahideen to carry out fidayeen operations in Delhi.

11.20 am: 'Mall attackers wanted to kill, not take hostages'

CNN has quoted a senior Kenyan government official as saying that there were actually "very few" innocents taken captive; as the attackers, firstly, were out for blood.

The report quotes the unidentitifed official as saying, "They were not interested in hostage-taking. They only wanted to kill."

11.00 am: Unidentified woman among attackers, says report

CNN has reported that an unidentified woman is among the attackers who laid siege to the upscale Westgate mall in Nairobi over the last four days.

The site said that it was now 'official' that a woman was among the attackers, but did not give further details.  There has been immense speculation that Samantha Lewthwaite, a British citizen and the widow of  7 July London bomber Jeremy Lindsay was involved in the attack and had been directing the operation. Several high ranking Kenyan government officials had said that a 'white woman' as well as citizens from the US had been part of the attacking unit.

Lewthwaite is wanted in Kenya for being part of a terror cell, and is reportedly a part of the high command of the al-Shabab group.

You can read more about her here

Earlier, Somalia's al-Shabab rebels have dismissed speculation that any woman was involved in the Westgate mall attack.

AFP cited tweets by the group, denying that any woman had been involved in the terror operation.

"We have an adequate number of young men who are fully committed and we do not employ our sisters in such military operations," the tweet said.

10.52 am: Kenya begins three days of mourning for mall victims

Kenya has begun three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege by Islamist militants on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre.

The three days of mourning was announced by Kenya President Uhuru Kenyata in a televised address to the nation, where he also declared the siege over.

9.37 am: 'You're a very bad man', said four-year-old to gunman

More survivor tales are beginning to emerge from inside Westgate mall, where a four day siege by al-Shabab terrorists finally came to a close.

Survivors of the assault told tales of horror and narrow escapes. Some made it out after hours, even days, of hiding in terror. The uncle of one British four-year-old told the Sun newspaper his nephew had told a militant "You're a very bad man", as the gunman let some children and their mother go.

Officials said the raiders had set a major fire on Monday in a supermarket. On Tuesday, a thin trail of smoke drifted into a soggy sky as darkness fell, the result, rescue volunteers said, of soldiers detonating locked doors in a search for militants.

Police let some people retrieve cars they left behind when shoppers fled in panic. Journalists and others were kept well away behind a security cordon.

Police said the attackers, who devastated restaurants and shops at a busy Saturday lunchtime, spraying bullets and grenades at Kenyans and foreigners, were now either dead or in custody.

"Now it is for the forensic and criminal experts," said a police spokesman, Masoud Mwinyi.

Some of the 63 people reported to the Red Cross as still missing may simply not have been at the mall, or may have later made it home without the agency being made aware. But some, at least, appear to have been held hostage.

"There are several bodies trapped in the rubble, including the terrorists," Kenyatta said. At the weekend, he had said there were between 10 and 15 militants holed up in the mall.

Several foreigners of many nationalities have already been named among the dead. The mall was a favourite with expatriates.

It is unclear how many foreigners may still be missing.

(Reuters)

8.00 am: Many Indian children believed to be among dead

With the mall siege finally over, attention will now turn to the extent of damage wrought by the al-Shabab attackers inside Westgate mall.

The Red Cross has said that 65 people remain unaccounted for, but rescue team members have told media of 'hundreds' of bodies inside the mall. Among them are believed to be many people of Indian origin.

According to a report in the Times of India, 500-odd Gujarati children and parents were participating in a cooking competition at the mall when the gunmen stormed in and started firing indiscriminately. "I have been inside the mall thrice as a volunteer with the rescue team and I have seen a number of bodies of children", the report quoted a rescue worker as saying.

Read more here

7.42 am: No women involved in Nairobi attack, tweet al-Shabab

Somalia's al-Shabab rebels have dismissed speculation that any woman was involved in the Westgate mall attack.

AFP cited tweets by the group, denying that any woman had been involved in the terror operation.

"We have an adequate number of young men who are fully committed and we do not employ our sisters in such military operations," the tweet said.

The denial comes even as speculation mounts that Samantha Lewthwaite, a British citizen and the widow of  7 July London bomber Jeremy Lindsay was involved in the attack and had been directing the operation. Several high ranking Kenyan government officials had said that a 'white woman' as well as citizens from the US had been part of the attacking unit.

Lewthwaite is wanted in Kenya for being part of a terror cell, and is reportedly a part of the high command of the al-Shabab group.

You can read more about her here

7.30 am: Siege over, focus now on dead and injured

With the Nairobi siege finally over, focus has now turned to the dead and injured in the al-Shabab attack on Nairobi's upscale Westgate mall.

Victory came at a cost. According to CNN, there have been at least 61 civilian deaths, six dead security officers and some 175 injured. Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta said Sixty-two people remain hospitalized.

The death toll may yet rise. The Red Cross said 65 people remain unaccounted for, and Kenyatta said three floors of the mall had collapsed, trapping some bodies.

-- end of updates for 24 September --

10.19 pm: Westgate siege over, says Kenyan president

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta while addressinf the nation has said that perpetrators of the attack on Westgate mall have been ashamed and defeated.

"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers," AFP quoted Kenyatta as saying. He added, "Sixty two people have been operated on. Its not an easy time for any of us."

Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning, beginning on Wednesday, in response to the attacks. He said the Kenyan flag will fly half mast.

He said that six security officials had also died in the attack.

He also said that three bodies are still in the Westgate mall while three floors of the mall have collapsed during the siege.

"We confronted this people without flinching. The criminals found us unafraid," Kenyatta said, and added, "These cowards and their associates will meet justice wherever they are."

An emotional Kenyatta thanked the nation for being united and said that he was proud of hos country. "The dedication and professionalism of the valiant officers has made Kenyans proud. The operation to control terrorism continues. We will consult now and in the future."

He said that he was humbled by the bravery shown by Kenya and thanked doctors, nurses, counselors and other volunteers.

10.01 pm: Don't know what's behind door till we open them: Soldier

A soldier who was inside the Westgate mall has told The Independent's Daniel Howden "We don't know what's under the debris. We don't know what's behind doors until we open them."

The soldier said, "Every pane of glass is broken and there are debris everywhere. We found people alive and we found dead."

He said, "There could be people still hiding, they don't know if it's help or danger when we are coming."

Here are Daniel Howden's tweets:

 

 

8.17 pm: Kenyan president to address nation at 3.30 pm GMT The Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta will address the nation at 3.30 pm GMT and 6.30 pm Kenyan time in a televised address. 7.54 pm: Kenya police takes over operation The Kenyan authorities have said that the Kenyan police have taken over the operation in Westgate mall from the Kenyan authoriries. The Kenyan Defence forces are going back to the barracks. Meanwhile BBC reports that almost a dozen armed officers on the were seen on the rooftop of the mall in what seems as a possible end game. 4:40 pm: Three Kenyan soldiers succumb to their injuries The Kenyan Interior Ministry has tweeted that three Kenyan soldiers involved in the rescue operations have succumbed to their injuries. 4.30 pm: Another 'powerful' explosion from inside mall BBC has just quoted al-Jazeera as saying that another powerful explosion has been heard from Westgate. The Bomb squad has also been seen moving in. The report comes even as police tweeted that the operation was over and troops were engaged in clearing and sweeping operations. The BBC has also quoted a police officer as saying that the operation is 'over'. No further information was forthcoming at present. 4.28 pm: City morgue preparing for 'large number' of bodies Associated Press has quoted a government official as saying that the Nairobi mall is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies from the Westgate attack. A local man, whose brother is taking part in the military operation inside the centre, has also reportedly told AP that there are many dead still waiting to be recovered. Meanwhile the Kenyan government has appealed for patience, as people clamour for. "We urge for patience so that the official communique will deal with all the issues you have raised", read a tweet from the Interior Ministry. 2.27 pm: Sudharshan B Nagaraj identified as third victim The third Indian victim of the Nairobi mall attack has been identified as Sudharshan B Nagaraj, from Bangalore. MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin confirmed the death on his Twitter feed:

 

2.22 pm: al Shabab says hostages are still alive The militant group that attacked a Nairobi mall and killed at least 60 people says it is still holding hostages alive inside and that its fighters are "still holding their ground." The Twitter messages posted Tuesday by the al-Qaida-linked rebel group al-Shabab came after Kenyan government assurances of success in the fourth-day of the standoff. Al-Shabab says the hostages "are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive." A security expert with contacts inside said Monday night there were at least 30 hostages when the assault began Saturday and at least 10 were believed to be still inside the upscale mall. Officials did not give a figure, saying only that "most" hostages had been released. Sporadic gunfire could be heard from the building Tuesday as government forces pressed on inside. 1:40 pm: Death toll of Indians in mall attack rises to three PTI reports that the death toll of Indians killed in Westgate mall terror attack in Kenya's capital Nairobi rises to 3. Associated Press said that the third victim as one Sudharshan B Nagaraj, from Bangalore. However, earlier reports said that an Indian Radio Jockey (RJ) had been killed. She had reportedly been pregnant, the report added. Ruhila Adatia-Sood, a popular media personality of Indian origin, was among the 69 people killed by the Islamist militants. Ruhila was in the rooftop car park of Westgate mall as part of a team hosting a cooking competition for small children at the time of the attack. She was married to Ketan Sood, who works for USAid in Nairobi, and was pregnant, media reports said. Ruhila was a presenter on Radio Africa media group’s East FM and hosted entertainment news on Kiss TV, E-News, Kiss 100 and X-FM. Read more The BBC reports that a group claiming to represent the gunmen inside the Westgate mall has claimed that there are hostages still being held by gunmen. Meanwhile the Kenya police have tweeted that the mall is now under control of forces and a sweep is being conducted. It must be noted here however, that this is not the first time that they have claimed this:

1:30 pm: BBC says two suspects held at airport and 10 gunmen may have been arrested

Quoting one of its reporters in Nairobi, the BBC reported: Komla Dumor BBC News in Nairobi reports that so far 10 militants have been arrested, two more have been detained at the city's airport as they tried to leave and three have been killed, according to security forces.

1:20 pm: CNN reports that bodies lying piled up in mall, gunmen still on the loose

The battle between the gunmen and security forces is nowhere close to over in the Westgate Mall. CNN reports that witnesses have said that piles of bodies are lying around in the mall and the gunmen are still on the loose inside. Initial estimates had suggested there could be 10 to 15 gunmen in the mall.

12.40 pm: One more gunman killed, tweets Kenya govt

Kenya government spokesman Manoah Esipisu has tweeted that one more gunman has been killed, bringing the death toll of the terrorists to three.

It is not known what has happened to the other gunmen in the mall. Earlier reports said that at least ten to fifteen gunmen were involved in the attack. Kenyan forces earlier claimed victory, but there are still reports of gunfire and explosions from inside the mall.

11.00 am: Gunmen, including snipers still inside mall, say reports

International news reports claim that several gunmen, including snipers are still inside the Westgate mall, despite police and government claims that they have secured victory.

Kenyan forces say that they are 'in control' of the mall, but fresh explosions and gunfire were still emanating from inside the building. More details as soon as we get them.

9.30 am: Fresh gunfire, heavy explosions inside mall

Barely one hour after Kenyan police claimed that forces had secured victory against gunmen who have been holed up inside the Nairobi mall, reports of Fresh gunfire and heavy explosions are coming in.

Despite Kenyan government assurances of success on Twitter, another explosion and more gunfire could be heard coming from the mall at around 6:30 am local time on Tuesday, Associated Press reporters at the scene said.

Security forces carried a body out of the mall, which remained on fire, with flames and smoke visible. While the government announced Sunday that "most" hostages had been released, Associated Press quoted a security expert with contacts inside the mall as saying that at least 10 were still being held by a band of attackers described as "a multinational collection from all over the world." Meanwhile Kenya's Interior Minister tweeted that ten people had been arrested at the airport in connection with the attack:

— InteriorCNG Ministry (@InteriorKE) September 24, 20138.56 am: 'Many' Indians have been killed in nairobi mall attack, say reports

The number of Indians killed in the Nairobi mall attack could be much higher than the current 'official' death toll, according to this report in the Times of India. The report quoted  Gujarati real estate developer Ravi Vekhariya, who has been inside the mall twice as part of a rescue team as saying, "The toll has been put at 70 so far.

At least 100 bodies are lying inside the mall, which have not yet been accounted for. Many of these are Indians. We estimate 30 to 40 may have been killed.'' More here

7.42 am: Kenya police claim standoff is over

The Kenyan police are claiming via their Twitter feed that the standoff with the mall attackers is now over. An official communiqué will be issued shortly, they added. No further information was immediately available.

 

 

7.20 am: Americans, British were among attackers, says Kenya FM Kenya's foreign minister says "two or three Americans" and "one Brit" were among those who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall. More than 60 people have been killed in the assault on the upscale mall, which has lasted for three days, reported Associated Press. The foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said in an interview with PBS' "NewsHour" program that the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the US, the agency added. US officials said they were looking into whether any Americans were involved. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH-kee) said Monday the department had "no definitive evidence of the nationalities or the identities" of the attackers. Kenya said its security forces had taken control of the Nairobi shopping mall where Islamist fighters killed at least 62 people, and that police were doing a final sweep of shops early Tuesday after the last of the hostages had been rescued. 6.40 am: Nairobi mall attack enters fourth day Despite Kenyan troops launching a massive assault on the Westgate mall last evening and claiming control over the building, there are still gunmen inside the building and the fighting is still continuing. The Kenya police tweeted the following four hours ago:

However CNN reported that despite this, two senior Kenyan officials had told the news channel that gunmen -- including snipers -- were still inside the four-story mall. There was still no word on what had happened to the hostages who were believed to be inside with the gunmen.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that Kenyan authorities said they had arrested more than 10 people for questioning in connection with the attack, including at least four taken into custody at an airport. More here

--- end of updates for 23 September --

10.39 pm: Fire in Westgate put out, says Kenyan ministry

Kenya's interior ministry tweeted saying the fire inside the Westgate mall has been put out.

10.22 pm: Two Somali MPs were caugh up in siege

A Somali MP has said today that he was caught up in the terrorist attack inside the Westgate mall along with a fellow parliamentariant.

The BBC reported that Ali Khalif Galeyr, a former prime minister, said that he had been having coffee with fellow parliamentarian Buri Hamza and an African Union political liaison officer from Burundi when the attack began.

10.11 pm: John Kerry says US stands with Kenya

Secretary of State John Kerry calls Saturday's assault on at a shopping mall in Kenya's capital "an enormous offense against everybody's sense of right and wrong." Kerry, who is in New York for meetings at the United Nations, describes the attackers as "ruthless and completely reckless terrorists."

He spoke Sunday with Somalia's foreign minister and U.N. ambassador. The Somalia-based, al-Qaida-linked group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

10.04 pm: Militants started fire in mall to distract troops

The Kenyan Defence ministry said today that the fire inside Westgate mall was started by the militants to distract the military operations and now it is being controlled by fire fighter from different agencies. Here is the tweet:

9.54 pm: Grocery store Nakumatt confirms 2 staff dead

The grocery store Nakumatt inside the Westgate mall in Nairobi where the militants began their siege has confirmed that two of their staff have died in the attack. Two other staff of the grocery store are hospitalised while one is missing.

9.25 pm: Govt says operation gone well, some militants on the run

The BBC reported the Kenyan government as saying that the operation has gone well even though some militants who took many people hostage at the Westgate mall are still on the run.

9.03 pm: Fire being contained, more than 10 arrested

Kenyan Defence force troops have taken control of all the floors in the Westgate mall and the fire is being contained by firefighters, says the Kenyan Interior Ministry. Also around 10 people have been arrested for questioning in connection with the attack.

8.58 pm: 11 Kenyan Defence force soldiers injured

Reports suggest that eleven Kenyan Defence force soldiers have been injured in the Westgate mall siege and have been taken to the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital for treatment.

8.35 pm: Troops take over all floors of mall, 3 militants killed

Kenyan defence forces are saying that troops are now in control of all floors of the Westgate mall and three militants have been killed so far. Kenyan forces have also said that there are slim chances of the terrorist escaping since all entry and exit points to the mall have been sealed. Eleven KDF soldiers have been injured in this operation and are receiving medical attention at the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital

 

 

8:00 pm: Kenyan Interior Ministry says two terrorists dead The Kenyan Interior Ministry has said that the troops who stormed the mall have killed two of the terrorists. https://twitter.com/InteriorKE/status/382149347536031744 7.36 pm: More gunshots heard, fight not over After about an hour of lull at the Westgate mall, gunshots were heard inside, reported BBC. This indicates that the fight is still on. It is the third day of this siege that began on Saturday. 7.33 pm: Security beefed up at all entry, exit points in Kenya In the backdrop of the deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall where Somalian al Shabaab terrorits have taken many hostage, killing at least 62 people, security have been beefed up at all entry and exit points in the country.

6.53 pm: Shooting in streets outside Westgate Associated Press reporter Jason Straziuso has tweeted saying there have been some shootings in streets outside the Westgate mall.

6.46 pm: Lull in gunfire, troops head inside mall The Independent's Daniel Howden reported that after prolonged gunfire there was a lull and a large number of Kenyan troops headed inside the mall. He also reported a Kenyan soldier as saying that it was almost over.

 

6.38 pm: Individuals arrested for questioning at airport The Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government has said that some individuals have been arrested at the Nairobi airport for questioning.

6.29 pm: Authorities ask people to keep off Westgate mall The Kenyan Interior ministry has been repeatedly tweeting asking people to keep off the Westgate mall because it may pose a threat to onlookers. Here are the tweets

 

6.23 pm: Kenyan Red Cross reduces death toll from 69 to 62 The BBC has reported that the Kenya Red Cross has reduced the death toll in the Nairobi mall siege from 69 to 62. The earlier figure of 69 was a result of double counting bodies being moved between morgues, reported BBC. 6.13 pm: Local radio stations play patriotic songs to keep Kenya united The local radio stations in Kenya are reportedly playing patriotic songs to encourage Kenyans to stand together. BBC reported that Kikuyu-language radio stations are playing gospel and patriotic songs to encourage Kenyans to stand together. 5.43 pm: Kenyan interior ministry thanks Twitter for verification

5.39 pm: Gunmen are 'multinational collection' says Kenyan authorities Julius Karangi, Kenya's chief of general staff has said that the gunmen involved in the attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall are from all over the world. BBC quoted Karangi as saying, "We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number. We have also have an idea that this is not a local event. We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient intel (intelligence) to suggest that." Karangi added that they are from people from all over the world. 5.27 pm: No Israeli soldiers, hostages in Westgate mall There are reportedly no Israeli soldiers along with Kenyan troops inside the Westgate mall, reported BBC Producer Michael Shuval. Shuval quoted a senior Israeli security official as saying "There are no Israeli soldiers fighting in Kenya. There are no Israeli hostages in the mall." 5.15 pm: More hostages rescued, troops gaining advantage Kenyan authorities are saying that some more hostages have been rescued from the Westgate mall as the troops continue to fight to ned the deadly siege.

5.03 pm: Kenyan authorities say security forces in control The Kenyan authorities have said that the security forces are now in full control of the Westgate mall and they are doing their best to bring this three day nightmare to an end.

5.01 pm: Kenyan police says it has killed two militants The Kenyan police has tweeted saying that they have killed two militants this morning.

4.55 pm: Kenyan govt says almost all hostages released The Kenyan interior minister has said that almost all hostages have been released. According to the minister the militants are burning mattresses which is causing all the smoke above the mall. Meanwhile BBC reported that there are at least 10 to 12 militants inside the mall and they are holding around 10 people hostage. 4.50 pm: Smoke thickens above Westgate mall The smoke above Nairobi's upscale Westgate mall has thickened as Kenyan troops and policemen continue to fight the al Shabaab militants. Here is a photo tweeted by Associated Press' Jason Straziuso:

4.38 pm: More casualties expected as police storms mall The BBC reported that there could be more casualties in the siege as the police have stormed the mall in a bid to bring an end to the battle with al Shabab militants. Security forces have told the BBC's Komla Dumor to expect more casualties as police storm the Westgate shopping centre, BBC reported. 3.37 pm: Army launches final assault on mall Kenyan troops have reportedly launched a massive assault on the Westgate mall, where gunmen are still holed up with hostages, almost three days after the attack began. Several blasts have been reported and smoke can be seen rising from the area, say reporters at the site. Meanwhile the Kenyan police tweeted this:

 

The army had reportedly delayed its offensive because of fears that the terrorists could have rigged the mall with explosives. Earlier the al-Shabab group, which had claimed responsibility for the attacks, had threatened to execute the hostages if force was used against them. There is no word on how many people are being held captive by the group, though some media reports have put the number at ten. The army has said that it has rescued 'most' of the hostages but have not given out a figure on how many people they rescued. 3.18 pm: No US, UK citizens involved in attack, says al-Shabab An al-shabab commander has told the BBC that there were no attackers from the US or UK involved in its audacious attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, which is still continuing. An al-Shabab military commander, who called himself Abu Omar, told the BBC that reports some of the attackers were from the UK or US were baseless - as were reports that women had also stormed the shopping centre. A tweet claiming to be from the Somali al-Shabab movement, had earlier named Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of 7 July bomber Jermaine Lindsay, as being involved in the attack. Dubbed the "White Widow" by many of the papers, it is understood she fled across the border from Kenya to Somalia in 2012. However the UK foreign office has said it was not going to speculate, and were 'investigating' the claims. Read more here 2.26 pm:  Nigerian prez Goodluck Jonathan condemns attack Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack in Nairobi's Westgate mall  and expressed sadness over the death of Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor who was one of the people killed in the attack. Jonathan said he was saddened by Awoonor's death. This dastardly act of terror on humanity is disturbing and we always maintain that a terror attack on anywhere in the world is a terror attack on all of us in the world because we can never know who will be a victim of terror," BBC quoted him as saying. 2.13 pm: Somalia's ambassador to Kenya denies al Shabab involvement Mohamed Ali Nur, Somalia's ambassador to Kenya has refuted reports of Somalian militant group al Shabab's involvement in the attack in Westgate mall. Nur told BBC, "Up to now we don't know who and what nationalities these terrorist attackers are and I think it would be better if we waited until Kenyan security agencies finished the operations, and then we can know who they are." 12.34 pm: Gunmen threaten to kill hostages if force is used Somali al-Shabab militants today threatened to kill hostages they are holding in a Nairobi shopping mall as Kenyan troops move to end their siege. "We authorise the mujahedeen inside the building to take actions against the prisoners as much as they are pressed," Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement posted on an Islamist website. "We are telling Christians advancing onto the mujahedeen to have mercy for their prisoners who will bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahedeen," Rage added. The al-Qaeda linked group claimed to be in contact with the fighters inside the mall. It also said the gunmen were battling both Kenyan and Israeli forces. 11.39 am: Kenya army admits that fate of hostages is still unclear A Kenyan military spokesman Monday said that the fate of hostages inside a mall besieged by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists was not clear despite earlier statements that "most" hostages had been rescued. Military helicopters circled over the mall at daybreak, when about five minutes of sustained gunfire broke out at the mall, a clear indication that at least one of the estimated 10 to 15 gunmen who attacked the mall when it was filled with shoppers Saturday was still on the loose. A large military assault began on the mall shortly before sundown on Sunday, with one helicopter skimming very close to the roof of the shopping complex as a loud explosion rang out, far larger than any previous grenade blast or gunfire volley. Officials said the siege would soon end and said "most" hostages had been rescued and that officials controlled "most" of the mall. But officials never said how many hostages had been rescued, and Kenya's military spokesman on Monday was still not able to provide clear details. "We are yet to get confirmation from what's happening in the building," Col. Cyrus Oguna, a Kenyan military spokesman, told The Associated Press. Late on Sunday, Oguna said that many of the rescued hostages — whom he said were mostly adults — were suffering from dehydration. An Associated Press reporter at a triage center next to the mall said no hostages ever showed up there. As the crisis neared the 48-hour mark, video taken by someone inside the mall's main department store when the assault began emerged. The video showed frightened and unsure shoppers crouching as long and loud volleys of gunfire could be heard. The assault came about 30 hours after 10 to 15 al-Shabab extremists stormed the mall Saturday from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians. Loud exchanges of gunfire rang out from inside the four-story mall throughout Sunday. Kenyan troops were seen carrying in at least two rocket-propelled grenades. Al-Shabab militants reacted angrily to the helicopters on Twitter and warned that the Kenyan military action was endangering hostages. Kenyan authorities said they would do their utmost to save hostages' lives, but no officials could say precisely how many people were being held captive. Kenya's Red Cross said in a statement, citing police, that 49 people had been reported missing. Officials did not make an explicit link but that number could give an indication of the number of people held captive. Kenya's Red Cross said the death toll rose to 68 after nine bodies were recovered Sunday. More than 175 people were injured, including many children, Kenyan officials said. 10.38 am: More gunfire heard inside Westgate mall The standoff between the Kenyan army and a group of armed gunmen inside the Westgate mall is continuing, and reporters are now saying that they can hear fresh gunfire and explosions from inside the mall. A BBC report quoted an AFP photographer at the scene as saying that he heard about 15 minutes of fierce gunfire which then subsided. A photographer accompanying the correspondent said troops deployed around the mall were forced to duck for cover, the report added. Kenyan troops claim to have rescued 'most' of the hostages inside the mall, but around ten people are still believed to be inside with the gunmen. There is no word yet on the number of people who have been rescued. However the death toll from the attack is now 69, while over 170 people have been injured. 9.12 am: US, UK citizens also involved in Nairobi terror attack? Sources within Al-Shabaab have told CNN that nine names listed on a Twitter site were people who were among the alleged hostage-takers. According to the report: Three of the alleged attackers are from the United States, two are from Somalia and there is one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom, according to the list. The FBI is looking into the claim that American citizens were involved the attack, but have not confirmed that. Similarly, a senior State Department official said that the United States is trying to determine whether any of the alleged attackers are American. But, the official said, authorities are becoming more confident American citizens were involved. Read more here Meanwhile Kenyan troops have rescued most of the hostages held by al-Shabab gunmen inside the Westgate mall, but around 10 people are still being held captive. 8.00 am: Were other groups also involved in attack? The Kenyan government is now saying that other terror groups could also be involved in the terror attack on the Nairobi Westgate mall apart from al-Shabab which has claimed responsibility. al-Jazeera noted that the government had not elaborated and it was unclear what they meant by this. Meanwhile security forces and intelligence agencies are coming under severe criticism for the way they responded to the attack. According to Kenyan news reports, it took more than an hour for specialised forces to get to the Westgate mall, and police had first said that they were responding to an armed robbery. Presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu, who has been attending many key briefings, was defensive in an interview with al-Jazeera. "The way you react to terror attacks is not always uniform. When something like this happens it gives you opportunity to reflect and think what things were we doing wrong", he said. 7.39 am: Most hostages rescued, says Kenyan army Col. Cyrus Oguna, a military spokesman, told Al Jazeera that most of the hostages had been released, though he did not provide an exact number. "Most of them were dehydrated and suffering from shock," Oguna told the news channel, adding that four Kenyan soldiers were injured in the rescue operation. The al-Shabab group said on its Twitter feed that "Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardising the lives of hostages." Speaking to Al Jazeera later, Abu Omar, a spokesman, for the group, ruled out any negotiations over the hostages being held and said they would meet their fate. Read more here 6.40 am: Kenyan military takes most of Westgate mall, toll now 68 The Kenyan military has now secured most of Westgate mall and have said that 'most' of the hostages being held inside the compound have been rescued. In a Twitter message, the Kenyan military said, "most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building." Kenyan police said on Twitter earlier that a "MAJOR" assault by security forces was ongoing to end the two-day siege. Meanwhile the Kenya Red Cross said that the death toll had gone up to 68, in a Twitter message:

Meanwhile al-Shabaab vowed not to negotiate with Kenyan authorities. 1.42 am: Toll in Westgate mall seige over 43 The toll in the bloody terror strike carried out by gunmen the upscale shopping mall Westgate in Kenya's capital Nairobi has risen to 43, Kenya Red Cross Society said. Among the killed were his close relatives, President Uhuru Kenyatta said. 1.15 am: EU says it will stand by Kenya European Union representative to the Horn of Africa Alex Rondoss has said, "We stand by Kenya, we will not be cowed by terorists. We admire the resilience of Kenyan security forces." Meanwhile, Associated Press reporter Jason Straziuso tweeted a photo of the mall.

12.46 am: Another big explosion heard at Westgate mall Associated Press reporter Jason Straziuso present outside the Westgate mall tweeted saying another big explosion was heard from the mall. Also he says "That big blast three hours ago and helos circling overhead the beginning of what Kenyan officials say is final assault." Here are his tweets:

 

12.10 am Police numbers for communication

11.46 pm: Kenya's disaster management centre says siege will end tonight The Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre manages and coordinates disaster response at a national level tweeted saying that they will make sure that the siege ends tonight.

11.22 pm: More firing heard inside Westgate mall AP correspondent Jason Straziuso who is outside the mall reported more gunfire from inside the mall as hostages began their second night inside the mall held by Somalian militants. Here is what Straziuso tweeted:

10: 00 pm: Sporadic gunfire still on in mall, major operation ongoing, say authorities https://twitter.com/NDOCKenya/status/381817575786967040 9:30 pm: Another al Shabab Twitter account After the first Twitter account of terror group al Shabab was shut down a couple of Twitter accounts are up tweeting about the attack and defending the rationale behind them. The handlers of  the account is making varying claims including that a fourth squad of mujahideen was headed to the mall and has also promised to reveal the identity of the militants inside the mall. T he authenticity of these  accounts, however, cannot be verified. 9:15 pm: Huge explosion reported from mall Associated Press correspondent Jason Straziuso reports that a large explosion has been heard from within the mall and its bigger than anything in the last 24 hours. https://twitter.com/jstraziuso/status/381804718428655616 https://twitter.com/jstraziuso/status/381806472792772609 9:00 pm: Kenyan troops reportedly in final assault A Kenyan news outlet Daily News is reporting that the gunfire and explosions may be the result of a final assault by the Kenyan troops on the militants. The status of the hostages is still unclear presently. Some reports claim the militants may be holed up in an establishment with bulletproof glass but that is unconfirmed presently. 8:23 pm: No other Indian citizens killed in the attack, says MEA https://twitter.com/AkbarMEA/status/381792706793447424 8: 15 pm: Commandoes enter mall, gunfire and grenade blasts heard Sounds of gunfire are emanating from the Westside mall as Kenyan commandoes enter the mall, reports the Independent's correspondent who is there. Daniel Howden from the Independent tweeted that gunfire could be heard as well as one grenade blast was heard. However, it is still not known who fired at whom and if it has resulted in a change in current standoff. 7:50 pm: Kenyan President confirms militants cornered in one part of mall, women among attackers The Kenyan president is among those who lost family members in the attack. His nephew and nephew's fiance were among those killed by the militants. "These are young lovely people I personally knew and loved," he said Kenyatta confirmed that the militants had been contained in one part of the mall presently and there are 10 to 15 of them, including women. The president also urged countries not to issue travel advisories against Kenya in light of the attacks. (You can also read the entire statement made by him here) 7: 25 pm:  At least 3 UK nationals killed in attack  Britain's Foreign Office says at least three U.K. nationals were killed in the attack on a mall in Kenya's capital and that the number is likely to rise, reports Associated Press. Kenya's military is still in a tense standoff with Islamic extremists Sunday, with the toll from the attack that began a day earlier at 59 dead. The Foreign Office said next of kin of the three confirmed British victims have been informed, and warned that the number of UK nationals confirmed as killed is "likely to rise as further information becomes available." It added that Foreign Secretary William Hague has chaired a meeting of Britain's crisis committee and sent a rapid deployment team from London to Nairobi to provide extra consular support. 7: 15 pm: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemns attack Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday condemned the terror attack in Kenya's capital Nairobi and called for a global effort to control violence, reported IANS. In a condolence letter to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Manmohan Singh said: "A concerted global effort is required to control such mindless violence." The prime minister directed the external affairs ministry to extend help to Indian nationals who were among the victims of the Nairobi attack. Two Indians, including an eight-year-old boy, the son of a local Indian banker, were among those killed. Four other Indians were injured, an Indian government spokesman said here Sunday. 6.25 pm: Number of missing after mall attack is 45 Kenya's Red Cross said in a statement citing police that 49 people had been reported missing. Officials did not make an explicit link but that number could form the basis of the number of people held hostage. "The priority is to save as many lives as possible," Joseph Lenku said, reassuring the families of the hostages in the upscale Westgate mall. Kenyan forces have already rescued about 1,000 people, he said. Ten to 15 attackers remain in the mall and Kenyan forces control the security cameras inside the shopping center, Lenku said. Combined military and police forces surrounded the mall in the Westlands neighborhood of Nairobi, which is frequented by foreigners and wealthy Kenyans. An Associated Press photographer saw Kenyan soldiers carry into the mall a rocket-propelled grenade, an extremely heavy weapon for an indoor hostage situation. Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told reporters at the mall that he has been told officials couldn't determine the exact number of hostages inside the mall. "There are quite a number of people still being held hostage on the third floor and the basement area where the terrorists are still in charge," Odinga said. 4.56 pm: Renowned poet Kofi Awoonor reported killed in attack Poet and author Kofi Awoonor has been reportedly been killed in the terror attack on Westgate mall. The 78-year-old poet and diplomat was on a visit to Nairobi with his son. Awoonor's son has been shot in the shoulder and is receiving treatment in a hospital. The Telegraph reports that the Ghanaian poet was on Nairobi to speak at the  Storymoja Hay Festival. TT reports:

Along with Ghanaian poets Nii Parkes and Kwame Dawes, he was due to perform on Saturday evening as part of a showcase of award-winning poetry from both sides of Africa.

Meanwhile, Daily Nation reported that the Muslim leadership in Kenya has issued a statement strongly condemning the attack which seem to have been sparked by religious fanaticism. Kenyan minister Ole Lenku said that at least 10-15 attackers are inside the Westgate mall still and rescue operations are still on. Ten to 15 attackers remain in the mall and Kenyan forces control the security cameras inside the shopping center, Lenku said. Combined military and police forces surrounded the mall in the Westlands neighborhood of Nairobi, which is frequented by foreigners and wealthy Kenyans. Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told reporters at the mall that he has been told officials couldn't determine the exact number of hostages inside the mall. "There are quite a number of people still being held hostage on the third floor and the basement area where the terrorists are still in charge," Odinga said. 3.55 pm: 'At least 30 hostages still inside with gunmen' al Shabaab militants are holding about 30 hostages inside the Westgate mall, according to this report by CNN that quotes Kenyan government and Western diplomatic sources. The news came even as Kenyan government officials said that the death toll from the attack was now 59 while another 175 were injured. Officials believe 10 to 15 gunmen are involved, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said. "We know that they were across the building," he told CNN's Zain Verjee. "We know that they are now isolated somewhere within the building."

2.43 pm: Death toll from mall attack now 59 Kenya's interior Cabinet secretary says at least 59 people were killed and 175 wounded in the attack by al-Qaida-linked militants at an upscale mall in Nairobi. Joseph Lenku said Sunday that about 1,000 people have been rescued so far from the Westgate mall. The gunmen remain inside with hostages nearly 24 hours after they launched the attack with grenades and assault rifles. Lenku said that there are 10 to 15 attackers involved. He said that Kenyan forces have control of the security cameras inside the mall. Combined military and police forces have surrounded the building. The Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, and targeted non-Muslims. 12.32 pm: Fresh gunfire reported from Westgate mall A barrage of gunfire erupted Sunday morning from the upscale Kenyan mall where there is a hostage standoff with Islamic extremist attackers, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene. Moments later two wounded Kenyan security forces were carried out of the Westgate shopping mall. Kenyan authorities said Islamic extremist attackers held an unknown number of hostages in the shopping center located in the Westlands area of Nairobi. "Violent extremists continue to occupy Westgate Mall. Security services are there in full force," said the United States embassy in an emergency text message issued Sunday morning. 12.20 pm: Death toll from attack goes up to 43, more than 200 injured The death toll from the Nairobi attack is now at 43 according to a report in CNN. The number of injured has also gone up to over 200. This toll is likely to rise further, given that a number of gunmen are still holed up in the mall with an unspecified number of hostages. It is not clear what they plan to do with them. There was a brief ray of hope as tweeted by Kenya's disaster management agency however:

Meanwhile Several Kenyan agencies made a plea for blood donations. "Hospitals are appealing for for more blood, the response is incredible but more is needed," tweeted Francis Kimemia, secretary to the Cabinet.

 

 

11.16 am: Many of the injured are Indians, say Kenyan media

A media report by Kenyan news agency Standard Digital has said that 'many' Indian names featured in lists of patients who were being treated at hospitals after a terror attack at the upmarket Westgate mall in Nairobi.

" A list at the notice board was conspicuous with names of people with Indian origin, their ages indicated against their names. Areas around Westlands are mainly inhabited by Indians who mostly shop at the lavish mall", the report said.

Meanwhile the report also quoted doctors as saying that many of those injured had bullets lodged inside their bodies and had stomach, lower abdomen and chest injuries, with others requiring urgent operations.

(Read more here)

The official toll of Indians injured so far, is six. Two others - a 40-year-old engineer and an eight-year-old boy, were killed in the attack.

The final toll is not known, given that many people are still believed to be held hostage inside the mall with the gunmen.

10.09 am: Security personnel were caught by surprise, says Kenyan media

Kenyan media reports indicated that its security personnel were caught completely off guard by a audacious terror attack that has killed at least 39 people and injured more than 150.

A report in the East Africa Standard website, quoted an unnamed 'top police officer attached to Kenya’s anti-terrorism unit' as saying that the incident had caught security personnel by surprise and adding that they had been no intelligence of the attack at all.

"Initial reports received by the police were that a robbery was taking place at the mall. The first to respond were a team of flying squad officers and police from Gigiri Division, under which the mall falls. It took at least an hour before a team of specialised units were deployed to the scene", the report added.

Read more here

9.23 am: US government condemns terror attack in Nairobi

The US government Saturday condemned the terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi while offering its condolences to Kenyans over the death of 39 people in the incident.

In a statement, the White House said, the US condemned the attack at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the despicable terrorist attack on innocent civilians today at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya," reported Xinhua citing White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in a statement.

"The perpetrators of this heinous act must be brought to justice, and we have offered our full support to the Kenyan Government to do so," said Hayden, adding that Washington would continue to confront terrorism in all its forms, including "the threat posed by al-Shabaab".

Hayden also said the US offered "deepest condolences" to the victims' families and loved ones, including the injured American citizens, and commended "the courageous response" by Kenyan security personnel and first responders.

9.06 am: Indian victim's family pleads for privacy

The family of Indian victim Sridhar Natarajan has pleaded for privacy, in the wake of his death at an upmarket Nairobi mall that was attacked by terrorists on Saturday. Natarajan's wife Manjula is also in critical condition at a Nairobi hosiptal.

Sridhar's family said that they were in touch with MEA officials in the wake of the horrific incident and pleaded for privacy at this difficult time.

The statement read as follows:

"We have been informed that Manjula is critical while her husband Sridhar Natarajan has succumbed to the injuries. This is difficult time for the family and we are trying to find more information. We are in touch with the relevant authorities in the MEA and we appreciate their help. As we decide the next steps, we will appreciate if our privacy, in this difficult hour, is respected."

The other Indian national killed in the attack is eight-year-old Parmanshu Jain, who is believed to be the son of the bank of Baroda manager.

8.51 am: Hostages still trapped inside Nairobi mall

An undisclosed number of hostages are still trapped inside Nairobi's West gate mall, which was attacked by armed terrorists around noon local time on Saturday.

A police officer inside the shopping centre told Reuters that the remaining gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre said the number of hostages was "still unknown, but they are in several locations".

"The gunmen have been contained in one location, but there are hostages elsewhere in the vicinity who cannot access the exit," the centre said on its Twitter feed. Upper levels of the mall had been secured, it said.

8.48 pm: Statement by Kenyan Deputy Spokesperson Department of State:

"We are following closely the attack underway at Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The situation is ongoing.

We condemn this senseless act of violence that has resulted in death and injury for many innocent men, women, and children. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of all victims. We have reports of American citizens injured in the attack, and the U.S. Embassy is actively reaching out to provide assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment on American citizens at this time. The Embassy is also in contact with local authorities and has offered assistance.

Local media reports that around 10 gunmen attacked the mall, which is frequented by expatriates in an upscale neighborhood of Nairobi. Reports indicate the attack occurred around noon on Saturday, September 21.

8.15 am: At least six Indians injured in attack

The number of Indians injured in the Nairobi mall attack has risen to six, according to CNN-IBN. The channel reported that the Indian injured were in two hospitals, and that Indian embassy officials were in touch with them, as well as their families.

The number of those injured in the attack had risen to six, from the previously thought four, the report added.

One of the injured is believed to be a young girl, while two women are also among those injured.

The Ministry of External Affairs is in touch with the families of the injured, and the immediate priority is to ensure that they get adequate medical care and attention. The MEA will also make preparations to bring the bodies of those killed, back to India.

7.49 am: UN security council condemns attack

The UN Security Council has condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms", AFP reports. "The members of the Security Council expressed their solidarity with the people and Government of Kenya at this difficult time," the agency quotes a council statement as saying.

7.23 am: Nairobi mall attack new form of terror, says Narendra Modi

BJP Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, speaking to his supporters in the US via a video conference link, said that the attack on the Nairobi mall was a 'new form of war', and said he condoled the death of the Indians, and especially Gujarati's who were killed in the attack.

"This is also a message to the world that we are living in the times of Gandhi, the great leader who gave a message of peace to the world. Terrorism is a deeply rooted and challenging problem faced by humanity.

Gandhi's principles and message shout out to us that we should spread peace and fight terrorism. Violence in any form, anywhere should be measured on the same parameters", he said.

At least two Indians, a 40-year-old IT engineer and the eight-year-old son of the country manager of the bank of Baroda were killed in the 26/11 style attack on Nairobi's top Westgate mall. Another four Indian nationals including a child, are receiving treatment for injuries. At least 39 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in the assault, Kenya’s president announced on national TV, while disclosing that his close family members were among the dead.

 

Civilians who had been hiding during the gun battle hold their hands in the air as a precautionary measure before being searched by armed police leading them to safety: AP

Civilians who had been hiding during the gun battle hold their hands in the air as a precautionary measure before being searched by armed police leading them to safety: AP

7.00 am: al Shabab says mall attack is consequence of Kenyan troops in Somalia.

The Al-Shabab terrorist group which claimed responsibility for the attack on a top Nairobi mall, on its Twitter feed, said that it has many times warned Kenya’s government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia “would have severe consequences.”

The group claimed that its gunmen had killed 100 people, but its assertions are often exaggerated. “The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders,” al-Shabab said.

Another tweet said: “For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it’s time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land #Westgate.”

Al-Shabab’s Twitter account was suspended shortly after its claim of responsibility and threats against Kenya.

Twitter’s terms of service forbids making threats.

Al-Shabab threatened in late 2011 to unleash a large-scale attack in Nairobi. Kenya has seen a regular spate of grenade attacks since then but never such a large terrorist assault.