September 22, 2013
Gunmen Kill 68 in Kenyan Mall Attack
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says at least one attacker has been killed during efforts to end a deadly siege on a busy shopping mall in Nairobi, while between 10 and 15 others remained holed up in one part of the building.
The Kenyan Red Cross increased the number of deaths to 68 after the bodies of nine more people were recovered during rescue operations. At least 175 others were wounded in the deadly attack which began Saturday inside the Westgate Mall.
Operations are currently underway to capture the gunmen, which include both women and men, and rescue an unknown number of hostages that remain inside. Media reports say that Israeli advisors are on scene assisting in the efforts.
In an emotional speech delivered Sunday, President Kenyatta vowed to stand firm against the threat of terrorism adding that Kenyan security forces had a good chance of neutralizing those responsible for the attack.
"They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully."
The president added that his nephew and (his nephew's) fiancee were among those killed in the attack.
"I feel the pain of every life we have lost and share your grief at our nation's loss."
The Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack saying it is retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia. An al-Shabaab spokesman said in an audio message, "Either leave our country or live with constant attacks."
Kenyan forces entered Somalia two years ago to fight al-Shabaab militants who had often crossed the border to stage attacks.
The U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack. Mr. Ban called it a "premeditated" and "totally reprehensible" act targeting defenseless civilians.
Witnesses said the gunmen wore masks and tossed hand grenades at the Westgate Mall during busy shopping hours.
Among those killed in the attack were three British nationals, as well as, nationals from France, Canada, China, India and South Korea. The United States says no Americans were killed, but that some have been injured.
US President Barack Obama called President Kenyatta Sunday to express condolences and reaffirm the United States shared commitment with Kenya in fighting terrorism.