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Africa

Nairobi mall siege over, says Kenyan president

© AFP

Video by Catherine NORRIS TRENT

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2013-09-27

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday that an assault by suspected al-Shabaab militants on Nairobi’s Westgate mall was over. A total of 72 people were killed in the four-day siege.

After a harrowing four-day siege in a Nairobi mall, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said security forces had defeated the terrorists and the assault was finally over in an address to the nation on Tuesday night.

"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers, that part of our task is completed," said Kenyatta.

"We have been badly hurt, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed. We have defeated our enemies and showed the whole world what we can accomplish." 

Kenyatta said 61 civilians and six members of the security forces died in the siege. He said five attackers had been killed and that there were 11 suspects in custody.

‘We cannot be conquered,’ Kenyatta says

The Kenyan president also revealed that towards the end of the security operation, three floors of the Westgate mall had collapsed and there were several bodies buried in the rubble.

Kenyatta’s televised address to the nation came a day after the Kenyan Interior Ministry said security forces had taken control of the mall. But on Tuesday, sporadic gunfire and explosions were heard from the sealed-off site, prompting questions over whether the siege had finally ended and the site had been secured.

Kenyatta declared a three-day period of national mourning starting Wednesday.

The Somali militant group al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the Nairobi mall attack, which began on Saturday afternoon as the popular, upscale mall was packed with shoppers and families dining in the food court section.

An official investigation into the attack is currently underway.

In his speech on Tuesday night, Kenyatta acknowledged reports that one British woman and two or three Americans may have been involved in the attacks.

But the Kenyan president said he could not confirm the reports and that forensic experts were working to ascertain their nationalities.

The attack began on Saturday when an estimated 12 to 15 al Shabaab militants invaded the mall, wielding grenades and firing on civilians inside the complex, which includes shops for Nike, Adidas and Bose and is popular with foreigners and wealthy Kenyans.

The militants specifically targeted non-Muslims, and at least 18 foreigners were among the dead, including six Britons, as well as citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China. Nearly 200 people were wounded, including five Americans.

The attack at the Westgate mall in Nairobi's Westlands neighborhood was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al Qaeda truck bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.
 

Date created : 2013-09-24

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