Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says the nation has triumphed over the terrorists who laid siege to a shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, after a four-day standoff. Forensic experts are now on the scene trying to determine the nationality of the attackers, and the final death toll.
In an address to the nation Tuesday evening, Kenyatta said five of the militants who attacked the Westgate mall were killed during military operations.
He said 61 civilians and six soldiers are also among the dead, but that many more bodies, including those of the remaining militants, may be buried in the rubble of the building after three stories of the mall collapsed during the final push.
Kenyatta praised Kenyans for staying united during days of horror and confusion.
“Fellow Kenyans, we have been badly hurt and feel great pain and loss, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed,” said Kenyatta.
Somalia’s al-Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which began mid-day Saturday when the assailants stormed the mall, armed with automatic guns and grenades.
The group said the attack was payback for Kenya’s military operations in southern Somalia.
Kenyatta acknowledged indications the fighters may have included militants from outside the region.
“Intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack. We cannot confirm the details at present, but forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists.”
Reports of a British woman’s involvement have raised speculation that the widow of one of the bombers responsible for the 2005 London subway bombings, Samantha Lewthwaite, may have been involved in the Westgate mall attack.
She has previously been linked to terrorist groups in Kenya and is wanted for planning other attacks in the country.
Kenyatta said authorities have arrested 11 people in connection with the mall attack. He also said Kenya will observe three days of mourning starting Wednesday for the victims of the Westgate siege.