Security forces on Sunday stormed a Nairobi shopping mall taken over by Al Shabab on Saturday.
Gunfire erupted yesterday, September 22, 2013 at an up market shopping mall in Kenya's capital Nairobi, where at least 59 people were killed and over 175 wounded when a Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabab, stormed the building on Saturday, Reuters news agency reported. Israeli Special Forces joined Kenyan troops in rescuing the hostages, the AFP news agency said.
Shooting erupted yesterday at the shopping centre after a tense standoff between security forces and the militants, a witness said, speaking from close to the shopping centre that is frequented by Westerners and wealthy Kenyans. Shortly after shots were fired, troops in camouflage, ran crouching below a restaurant terrace along the front of the building that was buzzing with customers when assailants charged in. Foreigners, including a Canadian diplomat and a renowned Ghanaian poet, were killed in the attack that began on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the Westgate Mall.
The attack began at about 12:00 local time (09:00 GMT) on Saturday when the attackers entered the centre, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. A children's day event was being held at the time - children are among those reported killed. Some witnesses said the militants told Moslems to leave and said non-Moslems will be targeted. The authorities appealed to Kenyans to donate blood for the injured and big queues began forming at a donation centre in central Nairobi.
The Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, Joseph Ole Lenku, yesterday told the BBC that 1,000 people managed to escape from the Westgate Mall after the assault by the militants. He added that between 10 to 15 attackers were still in the building, though it was not clear how many civilians remained trapped inside either as hostages or hiding from the militants. There was heavy military presence both in and around the shopping centre, and sporadic gunfire could be heard from inside.
Saturday's rampage is one of the worst incidents in Kenya since the attack on the US embassy in August 1998. Kenya has about 4,000 troops in southern Somalia fighting against Al-Shabab militants as part of an African Union force, AMISOM. They intervened in 2011 following attacks and kidnappings in northern Kenya near the Somali border by Al-Shabab. Al-Shabab believes the AU troops are invaders trying to stop their legitimate vision of creating an Islamic State in Somalia.