Death toll reaches 68 in Kenya mall attack
The death toll of the terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya has now reached at least 68 people, reports Reuters. Between 10 and 15 terrorists from Somalian Islamist group al-Shabaab held civilians hostage in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. In addition to the 68 people who died in the attack, at least 175 people were injured when the militants stormed into the mall and opened fire.
Al-Shabaab is Somalia’s affiliate for al-Qaeda. The members who took over the mall demanded that Kenya pull its troops out of Somalia, where soldiers have been fighting against the group. The attackers are isolated in one part of the mall, said to be a supermarket, and have been holding 30 people hostage for the past 36 hours, according to a Kenyan TV station.
The Kenya Police tweeted “MAJOR assault by security forces ongoing to end two-day siege at Westgate mall” around 1 pm ET, though Reuters reports that the situation has mainly been a stalemate with only brief moments of gunfire and a blast. Kenya Defense Forces tweeted that most hostages had been rescued and that security forces had taken control of most of the building.
A Twitter account alleged to be Al-Shabaab wrote, “Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardising the lives of all the hostages at #Westgate. The Kenyan government shall be held responsible for any loss of life as a result of such an imprudent move,” reported the New York Times.
President Uhuru Kenyatta released a statement earlier condemning the terrorists and praising the actions of Kenyans who lent their support to the victims. President Barack Obama called Kenyatta to offer his condolences.