21 September 2013

Kenya: All Is Being Done to End Westgate Siege - Ruto

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has assured Kenyans that the government is doing everything in its power to end the hostage situation that gripped the Westgate mall on Saturday.

He said the gunmen who took shoppers and staff at the mall hostage would be brought to book once security forces managed to contain the situation.

"The Government will bring the siege to end and will go to the bottom of the attack. We will bring to account the perpetrators and their accomplices. Our security is important," he said in a statement from The Hague.

He condoled with the victims of the attack and their families and urged Kenyans to co-operate with security agents as they worked to mitigate further loss of life.

"We ask all to cooperate with the security agencies not only now but when they have information they feel can help prevent such tragedies in future," he said.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku joined the Deputy President in assuring Kenyans that everything was being done to bring the standoff to an end and assured security agents had already secured most of the mall.

"Our people have reached most of the floors and taken them over. We have put in place machinery to find the perpetrators of the crime," he informed the press outside the mall.

Interior Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo said the government had taken the additional step of air surveillance in its bid to bring an end to the hostage situation.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero joined the security chiefs in calling for calm and assured city residents that every possible measure has been taken to ensure their safety.

"I am deeply saddened by the incident that took place at Westgate this morning and wish to assure residents of Nairobi that we shall move swiftly and engage very closely with all the security agents and relevant authorities to ensure that the security situation in Nairobi is not compromised in any way," he said.

The incident has also attracted the attention of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who assured Kenyans that the international community's thoughts and prayers were with them at this trying time.

"The Secretary-General has spoken to President Uhuru Kenyatta and expressed his concern as well as offering his solidarity as the Kenyan authorities handle the incident," a statement from his office indicated.

The British Government through Foreign Secretary William Hague joined the international community in condoling with the families of the 30 victims who have so far lost their lives and those injured.

He assured the Kenyan public that the British government would help in any way it could to help prevent further loss of life.

"We are in close contact with the Kenyan authorities on the ground in Kenya and at ministerial level in the United Kingdom. The prime consideration at present is the welfare of members of the public caught up in this incident," he said in a ministerial statement.

Proprietors of various stores within the Westgate mall sent their condolence messages, as Nakumatt Holdings took the precautionary step of closing all its stores in the Central Business District and its 24-hour stores.

A statement from ArtCaffe indicated that all their members of staff had been evacuated although some were injured.

"The armed gunmen, who entered Westgate mall through the main entrance, opened fire on the customers and staff in the mall in almost all the shops and restaurants, beginning from the main entrance and working upwards. On hearing the gunfire, patrons and staff in the mall ran for cover at every level," the ArtCaffe management recounted.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has in the meantime called for blood donations to cater for the tens of people who have been admitted to the MP Shah and Aga Khan hospitals.

It is as yet unclear how many are still held hostage in the mall but the Kenya Defence Forces have been called in to contain the situation.

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