Hostages held at Kenyan mall, violence ensues
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 22:09
At least 62 people have been reported dead following the terrorist attack on a luxury mall in Nairobi. Joseph Ole Lenku, Kenya’s interior minister, stated “almost all” of the hostages were evacuated from the Westgate Mall, but as of yesterday, gunfire and explosions were still heard echoing from the mall while the remaining number of hostages was still unclear. As night fell, Kenyan authorities said they were confident the attack was nearly at an end, and they had taken control of all of the floors of the mall.
Yesterday, Kenyan security forces had the mall surrounded, and members of Al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, set fire to the mall’s supermarket to distract security. Forces sealed the mall to ensure the attackers could not escape, but the terrorists continued to elude security officials.
The violence erupted on Saturday when an estimated 10 to 15 militants from Al-Shabab stormed the mall. According to witnesses, the group began firing rounds at civilians and tossing grenades inside the popular shopping center before taking hostages. Shoppers reported being questioned, and the majority of those who responded that they were Muslim were set free. According to Al-Shabab’s Twitter page, the attack was a response to Kenyan forces’ 2011 invasion of Somalia.