News / Africa

Al-Shabab Militants Claim They Still Hold Hostages at Kenya Mall

Kenya Defense Force soldiers run to take their positions at the Westgate shopping center, on the fourth day since militants stormed into the mall, in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013.
Kenya Defense Force soldiers run to take their positions at the Westgate shopping center, on the fourth day since militants stormed into the mall, in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013.
VOA News
The Somali militant group al-Shabab says its fighters are still holding hostages inside the Kenyan mall where gunmen began a deadly siege on Saturday.

The group said in a series of Twitter messages Tuesday that militants were "holding their ground" at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, and that a "countless" number of dead bodies were inside.

Kenya's military says it is conducting "mop up" operations at the site, while the police urged people to ignore what it called al-Shabab's "propaganda."

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The military says three Kenyan soldiers died and 11 others are hospitalized from injuries sustained in the Westgate operation.

Earlier, officials had said they were in control of the mall with soldiers going through the building looking for anyone still inside, and that all of the hostages had been freed.

Fresh gunfire was heard around dawn Tuesday and twice more later in the day.  The Kenyan Interior Ministry maintains the operation is "near the very end."

Al-Shabab repeated its stated reason for staging the attack, posting Tuesday that "peace will come" to the mall when Kenya removes its forces from Somalia.  Kenya has rejected that demand.

 Al-Shabab Timeline

  • 2006 - Launches insurgency to take control of Somalia and impose strict Islamic law
  • 2008 - U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
  • 2009 - Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu and the port city Kismayo
  • 2010 - Expands control across central and southern Somalia, carries out deadly bombing in Kampala, Uganda
  • 2011 - Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
  • 2011 - East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat; Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
  • 2012 - Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, abandons strategic coastal stronghold Kismayo
  • 2013 - Attacks Mogadishu court complex, killing more than 30 and attacks mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 69 people
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 crossed the border to stage attacks in Kenya.

At least 62 people have died in the siege that began Saturday when gunmen stormed the busy shopping mall.  Gun battles between Kenyan security forces and the militants have killed three of the gunmen and wounded 11 soldiers.  Authorities say at least 10 suspects have been arrested.

The dead include nationals from Britain, Canada, China, France, Ghana, India and South Korea.

Kenyan officials say they believe the gunmen include fighters from several nations.  Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told the PBS Newshour that two or three Americans of Somali or Arab origin and a British national took part in the attack.

White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said the U.S. has long been concerned about al-Shabab recruiting Americans to Somalia, and that the government is examining reports they were involved in the mall siege.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he has spoken directly with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, and will provide whatever law enforcement assistance Kenya needs.

Obama said he is confident Kenya will rebuild. He called it one of Africa's most stable democracies.

President Kenyatta vows to stand firm against terrorism and punish those behind the attack "swiftly" and "very painfully." The president said his nephew and the young man's fiancee were among those killed.

  • Smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25 2013. 
  • Catholic nuns pray near the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Fresh graves of Westgate Mall shooting victims in a cemetery in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013. 
  • Kenyan security forces stand on the top floor of a building facing the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Mary Italo, center, grieves with other relatives for her son Thomas Abayo Italo, 33, who was killed in the Westgate Mall attack, as they wait to receive his body at the mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2013. 
  • Kenya Defense Forces soldiers take their position at the Westgate Mall, on the fourth day since militants stormed into the mall, in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013.
  • Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Paramedics run outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi after heavy shooting, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • People donate blood for people injured in the attack at the Westgate Mall, at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Stephen, center, who lost his father in Saturday's attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is comforted by relatives as he waits for the post mortem exam at the city morgue, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
  • Civilians who had been hiding inside during the gun battle manage to flee from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: Obama lies!! from: White House
September 24, 2013 9:24 AM
Over the past couple of days, we have witnessed some absolutely horrific examples of Islamic terror groups specifically targeting Christians and those from other non-Muslim religions. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Radical Islamic jihadists are constantly attacking churches and slaughtering Christians all over the planet. The recent events in Pakistan, Kenya and Egypt may have taken this persecution to a new level, but this is just the continuation of a trend that has been building for years.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama does not seem too concerned about Islamic terrorism. In fact, he specifically directed that “all references to Islam” be removed from terrorism training materials that the federal government uses. If that wasn’t bad enough, now Obama is actually supplying weapons to the radical jihadist rebels that want to take over Syria, and he appears to be very ready to use the U.S. military to attack the Assad regime directly if “negotiations” with the Syrian government fail. In essence, Obama wants the United States to be allies with psychotic jihadists that have the exact same radical philosophy that those who are killing Christians in Pakistan, Kenya and Egypt have.

Is Obama insane? In Pakistan, the Taliban (a very close cousin of al-Qaeda) has already claimed responsibility for the worst church bombing in the history of that nation. The attack left 85 dead and nearly twice that many wounded. To say that this was a horrific attack would be a massive understatement… The attack on All Saints Church, which also wounded 140 people, underlines the threat posed by the Pakistani Taliban at a time when the government is seeking a peace deal with the militants.

The attack occurred as hundreds of worshipers were coming out of the church in the city’s Kohati Gate district after services to get a free meal of rice.
‘There were blasts and there was hell for all of us,’ said Nazir John, who was at the church with at least 400 other worshipers. ‘When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around.’ Who would do something like that?
In Kenya, a team of Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi and murdered at least 62 people. What makes that attack even more disturbing is that the terrorists specifically targeted non-Muslims. In fact, hostages were given a test by the terrorists to determine whether or not they were actually Muslims. Those that failed the test were executed…

The reason the Islamists targeted the Westgate shopping centre was clear from the moment they stormed inside brandishing AK-47s and grenades. Anyone who was not a Muslim, or could not prove that they were, was immediately targeted. Reports from separate floors of the building in the first hours of the assault told how the attackers, speaking rough Swahili and English, shouted at Muslims to identify themselves. Many people came forward. They were ordered to speak in Arabic, or to recite a verse from the Koran, or to name the Prophet Mohammed’s mother. Those who passed this test were allowed to flee. Those that did not were executed, including children.

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