September 25, 2013
Kenya in Mourning as Investigators Probe Mall Attack
Kenyans are mourning those killed in a militant siege at a Nairobi mall, as authorities investigate the scene and work to recover bodies still trapped in rubble at the shattered building.
White smoke was rising into the air Wednesday at the site where Islamist militants stormed the building four days earlier. The gunmen killed at least 61 civilians, while six Kenyan security forces and five of the militants were killed as troops worked to regain control of the mall.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said late Tuesday the militants had been "ashamed and defeated," calling them "cowards" who will face justice along with their accomplices.
"Our head is bloodied but unbowed. The criminals found us unafraid as we shall ever be. We cannot be conquered."
He said 11 suspects were in custody, and declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Britain's Foreign Office said Wednesday a British national was arrested in Nairobi following the siege, but did not give additional details about their identity or possible link in the attack.
Kenyan officials have said intelligence reports suggested a British national may have been involved.
Mr. Kenyatta called a special meeting Wednesday of his Cabinet and National Security Council to discuss national and regional counterterrorism strategy, as well as the lessons learned from the deadly siege.
Cabinet Secretary Francis Kimemia said forensic experts from Israel, Britain and the United States are working with Kenyan authorities.
The al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab says it fighters were behind the attack at the Westgate mall, a large, upscale shopping center popular with foreigners, tourists and wealthy Kenyans.
The dead include nationals from Britain, Canada, China, France, Ghana, India and South Korea. Mr. Kenyatta said an unknown number of bodies remain trapped in rubble at the mall, where three floors collapsed in part of the building.
Al-Shabab accused Kenyan troops of carrying out demolition that buried 137 hostages. Kenyan officials denied claim, saying the collapse happened as a result of a fire set by the militants.
Al-Shabab is demanding that Kenyan troops leave Somalia -- a demand Kenya refuses.
Kenyan forces entered neighboring Somalia two years ago to help rout al-Shabab, which has been fighting to turn Somalia into a conservative Islamic state. Al-Shabab militants often cross the border to stage attacks in Kenya.
U.S. President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday that the Kenyan siege, and attacks in Pakistan and Iraq, show that al-Qaida may have splintered into regional networks, but is still a serious threat across the globe.