Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Two hostage takers dead in fighting at Kenya mall

AP, NAIROBI

People queue to donate blood to the injured victims of an attack on a shopping mall at a temporary donation center at the Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Four thunderous explosions rattled an upscale mall in Nairobi yesterday, part of a battle between Kenyan troops and Islamist militants.

Top Kenyan officials said two hostage-takers, part of “a multinational collection from all over the world,” had been killed.

Kenya Minister of the Interior Joseph Ole Lenku said the evacuation of hostages “has gone very, very well” and that Kenyan officials are “very certain” that there are few if any hostages left in the building.

Lenku also revised the death toll to 62.

Kenyan officials earlier said 59 people had died since the siege on Westgate Mall began on Saturday, while the Red Cross had put the toll at 68, then lowered it to 62, saying some bodies had been counted twice.

Kenyan Chief of Defense Forces General Julius Karangi said fighters from an array of nations participated in the attack claimed by al-Shabaab, a Somalian group allied with al-Qaeda.

Karangi said Kenyan forces were in charge of all floors inside the mall, although militants could still be hiding inside.

The four explosions were followed by volleys of gunfire, then a thick, dark column of smoke that burned for roughly 90 minutes.

On Sunday, Kenyan officials announced that “most” hostages had been rescued.

Kenyans and foreigners were among those confirmed dead, including British and French nationals, Canadians, Indians, a Ghanaian, a South African and a Chinese woman. The UK Foreign Office said yesterday it has confirmed the deaths of four British nationals.

At the Oshwal Center next to the mall, the Red Cross was using a squat concrete structure that houses a Hindu temple as a triage center.

Medical workers yesterday attended to at least two wounded Kenyan soldiers there.

Al-Shabaab said the attack, targeting non-Muslims, was in retribution for Kenyan forces’ 2011 push into Somalia.

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