News / Africa

Smoke Pours From Kenya Mall As Forces ‘Close In’

  • 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.
Islamist Militants Attack Nairobi Mall
Reuters
Thick smoke poured from the besieged Nairobi mall where Kenyan officials said their forces were closing in on Islamists holding hostages on Monday, the third day since Somalia's al-Shabab launched a raid that has killed at least 62 people.
 
It remained unclear how many gunmen and hostages were still cornered in the Westgate shopping center, after a series of loud explosions and gunfire were followed by black smoke billowing from one part of the complex.
 
Following a pattern of the past three days, bursts of gunfire and activity have been followed by long lulls.
 
Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told a news conference that militants had set fire to mattresses in a supermarket on the mall's lower floors. His ministry later said the blaze was under control.
 
Ole Lenku said two attackers were killed on Monday, taking the total of dead militants so far to three, and added that none of the raiders was female although some had dressed as women. However, a security source and two soldiers said one white woman attacker had been killed.
 
President Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed on Sunday a demand that he pull Kenyan forces out of neighboring Somalia.
 
Kenyatta, who lost one of his own nephews in Saturday's bloodbath, said he would not relent in a “war on terror” in Somalia, where Kenyan troops have pushed al-Shababonto the defensive over the past two years as part of an African Union-backed peacekeeping mission across the northern border.

The gunmen came from “all over the world”, Julius Karangi, chief of the Kenyan general staff, without giving nationalities. “We are fighting global terrorism here,” he said.
 
US President Barack Obama discusses attack on Nairobi mall on Sept.23, 2013.US President Barack Obama discusses attack on Nairobi mall on Sept.23, 2013.
x
US President Barack Obama discusses attack on Nairobi mall on Sept.23, 2013.
US President Barack Obama discusses attack on Nairobi mall on Sept.23, 2013.
In Washington, officials said they were monitoring efforts by al-Shababto recruit in the United States but they had no direction information of any involvement by Americans in the Nairobi attack. President Barack Obama said Washington was offering Kenya all the cooperation it could in handling what he called a “terrible outrage”.
 
Security officials near the mall said the explosions heard at lunchtime were caused by Kenyan forces blasting a way in, but Ole Lenku said he had no information on any blasts and a military spokesman declined to comment on them.
 
Al-Shabab said it would kill hostages if police moved in.

Acting cautiously
 
Echoing other officials, who have highlighted successes in rescuing hundreds of trapped people after Saturday's massacre, Ole Lenku said most of the complex was under the authorities' control and escape was impossible.
 
“We are doing anything reasonably possible, cautiously though, to bring this process to an end,” Ole Lenku said, while another top police officer said Kenyan forces were “closing in”.
 
“The terrorists could be running and hiding in some stores, but all floors now are under our control,” the minister said.
 
Despite the minister's assertion that all the attackers were men, one intelligence officer and two soldiers told Reuters that one of the dead militants was a white woman. This is likely to fuel speculation that she is the wanted widow of one of the suicide bombers who attacked London's transport system in 2005.
 
Called the “white widow” by the British press, Samantha Lewthwaite is wanted in connection with an alleged plot to attack hotels and restaurants in Kenya. Asked if the dead woman was Lewthwaite, the intelligence officer said: “We don't know.”
 
Ole Lenku acknowledged “support” from foreign governments but said Kenyan forces were managing without it so far. Western powers have been alarmed by a spread of al-Qaida-linked violence across Africa, from Nigeria and Mali in the west, though Algeria and Libya in the north to Somalia and Kenya in the east.
 
Nairobi saw one of the first major attacks by al-Qaida, when it killed more than 200 people by bombing the U.S. embassy in 1998. Some analysts said the latest raid may show al-Shabablashing out in its weakness after being pushed back in Somali, but the risk of further international violence remains.
 
On Sunday, President Kenyatta said 10 to 15 assailants were holding an unknown number of hostages in one location, apparently the supermarket. On Monday, it was not clear whether they may be more dispersed, including on the upper floors.
 
A spokesman for al-Shababwarned they would kill hostages if Kenyan troops tried to storm their positions. “The mujahideen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force,” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in an online audio statement.
 
On Twitter, the group posted: “They've obtained large amounts of ammunition and are, by the blessings of Allah alone, still firm and still dominating the show.”
 
The Red Cross and Ole Lenku put the death toll so far at 62. The Red Cross said it had also recorded 63 people as missing.
 
Guns and grenades
 
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said he believed six Britons had been killed in the attack. Other foreign victims include citizens of China, Ghana, France, the Netherlands and Canada.
 
Survivors' tales of the assault by squads of attackers throwing grenades and spraying automatic fire have left little doubt the hostage-takers are willing to go on killing. Previous raids around the world, including at a desert gas plant in Algeria nine months ago, suggest they are also ready to die.
 
It remains unclear who the assailants are. Al-Shabab- the name means “The Lads” in Arabic - has thousands of Somali fighters but has also attracted foreigners to fight Western and African Union efforts to establish a stable government.
 
Kenya's president, son of post-colonial leader Jomo Kenyatta, is facing his first major security challenge since being elected in March. The crisis might have an impact on his troubles with the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
 
Judges there let his vice president, William Ruto, fly home for a week, suspending a trial on Monday in which Ruto is charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly coordinating violence after an election in 2007. Kenyatta is due to face trial on similar charges in November.
 
Al-Shabab's siege underlined its ability to cause major disruption with relatively limited resources, even after Kenyan and other African troops drove it from Somali cities.
 
“While the group has grown considerably weaker in terms of being able to wage a conventional war, it is now ever more capable of carrying out asymmetric warfare,” said Abdi Aynte, director of Mogadishu's Heritage Institute of Policy Studies.
 
Al-Shabab's last big attack abroad was a double bombing in Uganda that killed 77 people watching soccer on TV in 2010.​
 
Watch related video:

Kenyan Official: Most Hostages Rescued From Malli
X
September 23, 2013 5:12 PM
Kenya says only a few hostages remain inside the Nairobi shopping mall stormed by Islamist militants Saturday. Kenyan forces were still attempting to clear the mall of hostages and gunmen Monday, more than 48 hours after the incident began. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.

VOA Nairobi correspondent Gabe Joselow contributed to this report 

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Paul Gesimba from: Nairobi
September 24, 2013 1:44 AM
The UN Security Council must ow take a proactive approach in dealing with the Somalia crisis .Involving multinational force .Like in the case of DRC .The AMISOM forces in Somalia must be boosted by the inclusion of Ethiopian forces to force the Al Shabab militants to surrender or discuss peace terms .If the Kenyan troops were to pull out this may create a power vacuum that the Al Shabab may exploit to cause mayhem and spread their terror networks including piracy in the East coast .The Forces in the DRC should also be boosted by the inclusion of Tanzanian forces to foster peace and security in the region .

by: Gareth from: London
September 23, 2013 4:19 PM
My sympathies go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. I think it is important that we address why some terrorist attacks feature heavily in the news while others do not. Please read my post on why Al-Shabaab is in the news and Boko Haram is not despite an attack last week. http://garethricejones.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-rise-of-twitter-terrorism-an-analysis-of-terrorism-pr/

by: Eugene Hamptons from: San Diego
September 23, 2013 3:51 PM
Then Obama apologies ... and adds, who wants a free phone?

by: ali baba from: new york
September 23, 2013 3:30 PM
We need gorge w Bush to teach these criminals a lesson. those people need an iron fist to fight them no bribe to Muslim brotherhood.no aids to Pakistan until they will able to get rid of fanatic thugs. the war against terrorism will not stop . there will be many lives will be lost ,but that is their choice.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 23, 2013 12:09 PM
This war on terror is one that should not be left to nations on their own. El Shebaab claimed responsibility for the attacks that have killed more than 62 people. Russian diplomacy is giving teeth to terrorism all over the world. Imagine the support to Iran, North Korea and Syria; imagine that Obama became afraid to maintain his red line on Syria chemical weapon because of Russia - he denied drawing a line at all. But more than Russian diplomacy, the world's new way of fighting wars is another aid to terrorism. Wars are fought with kid gloves nowadays. Countries are no longer afraid of wars, because it means very little different from just having some form of incursion into a territory.

If it takes sacking governments and populace that harbor terrorist, people would take precaution to allow terrorists operate from their region. For the terrorists do not operate from the air, they do not work in vacuum, they live in countries and are well taken care of - the Abotabad issue in Pakistan can't be forgotten so easily. In North of Nigeria they live in government houses and houses of serving and/or retired officers. Is it until there is an attack of the 9/11/2001 scale before the world will know that terrorism must be eliminated? Even when they struck at that level, was the war not prosecuted like a civilian jamboree? And did the people not have two faces - with one smiling to the allied forces, and with another shooting or pointing the allied forces to the terrorists.

The world should rise once and decide what to do with this issue once and for all time to save lives from these beasts, some of whom are state sponsored.

by: Emilie from: Seattle
September 23, 2013 8:14 AM
There is a problem with the volume on this audio clip, but thanks for posting.
In Response

by: Munawar from: London
September 23, 2013 5:16 PM
You are right in saying terrorists and states sponsoring them should be dealt with iron hands. But, you are wrong on Syria where actually terrorists like Al-Shabab are funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and god fathered by US and Britain. Do I need to say Osama Bin Laden and Talibans became strong and a significant threat only after the war against Russians in Afghanistan which was supported by the west. Unfortuntaley, when nations only act in their self interest ignoring all the morality, then longer term results are disastrous. Only by truly acting for the greater good of mankind we can acheive peace and get rid of terrorists not matter where they originate from.



Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs