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Kenyan Forces Search for Gunmen, Hostages at Mall

Kenya says its forces are searching for both hostages and gunmen in the Nairobi shopping mall where Islamist militants killed dozens of shoppers Saturday.

Government officials said Monday the military controls all the floors in the Westgate shopping center and has rescued an unspecified number of hostages.

But the situation at the mall remained unclear late Monday. Black smoke has billowed over the mall for several hours, and explosions and gunfire were heard throughout Monday afternoon.

The Somali terrorist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the mall assault -- saying it was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said two gunmen have been killed in the ongoing military operation, and that 10 members of the security forces were wounded.

Lenku blamed the militants for the smoke, saying they set mattresses on fire as a distraction.

He said 62 people have been killed since the assault began Saturday. The Kenyan Red Cross put the death toll at 69, with 175 people wounded and at least 65 missing.



Kenyan forces entered Somalia two years ago to fight al-Shabab militants who often had crossed the border to stage attacks.

An al-Shabab spokesman said in an audio message, "Either leave our country or live with constant attacks."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to stand firm against the threat of terrorism and punish those behind the attack "swiftly" and "very painfully."

The president said Sunday that his nephew and his nephew's fiancee were among those killed in the attack, and that he feels the pain of every life that was lost.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with his Kenyan counterpart Sunday. Kerry called the attack "an enormous offense against everybody's sense of right and wrong.''

The U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the attack. Mr. Ban called it a "premeditated" and "totally reprehensible" act targeting defenseless civilians.

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 wounded.

President Barack Obama called President Kenyatta Sunday to express his condolences and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Kenya on fighting terrorism.

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