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59 dead, 175 injured in mall attack, says Kenya's Cabinet secretary

Associated Press
Sep 22, 2013 at 03:25pm IST

Kenya's interior Cabinet secretary says at least 59 people were killed and 175 wounded in the attack by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists at an upscale mall in Nairobi.

Joseph Lenku said on Sunday that about 1,000 people have been rescued so far from the Westgate mall.

The gunmen remain inside with hostages nearly 24 hours after they launched the attack with grenades and assault rifles.

59 dead, 175 injured in mall attack, says Kenya's Cabinet secretary

59 dead, 175 injured in mall attack, says Kenya's cabinet secretary

Lenku said that there are 10 to 15 attackers involved. He said that Kenyan forces have control of the security cameras inside the mall. Combined military and police forces have surrounded the building.

The Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, and targeted non-Muslims.

Multiple barrages of gunfire erupted on Sunday morning from the upscale Kenyan mall where there is a hostage standoff with Islamic extremists nearly 24 hours after they attacked using grenades and assault rifles.

Two wounded Kenyan security forces were carried out of the Westgate shopping mall after a sustained volley of gunfire that may have included grenade blasts.

Kenyan authorities said the militants held an unknown number of hostages in the shopping center located in the Westlands area of Nairobi, after killing at least 39 and injuring 150 on Saturday.

Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack in which they specifically targeted non-Muslims.

Kenyans and foreigners were among those confirmed dead, including French and Canadians. Kenya's presidential office said that one of the attackers was arrested on Saturday and died after suffering from bullet wounds.

"Violent extremists continue to occupy Westgate Mall. Security services are there in full force," said the United States embassy in an emergency text message issued on Sunday morning.

Trucks brought in a fresh contingent of soldiers from the Kenya Defence Forces early Sunday to back the combined military and police force that surrounded the upscale mall overnight.

Daylight brought some good news, as Kenyan media reported that several people in hiding in the mall escaped to safety, suggesting that not everyone who is still inside is being held by al-Shabab.

Cecile Ndwiga said she had been hiding under a car in the basement parking garage.

"I called my husband to ask the soldiers to come and rescue me. Because I couldn't just walk out anyhow. The shootout was all over here - left, right- just gun shots," she said.

Nairobi resident Paolo Abenavoli said he is holed up in his apartment only 100 meters from the mall with a direct view of the entrance. He said he could see a dozen or more security forces inside a first floor restaurant.

"The battle is on now," Abenavoli told The Associated Press by telephone as the fresh gunfire broke out Sunday.

Security forces had pushed curious crowds far back from the mall. Hundreds of residents gathered on a high ridge above the mall to watch for any activity.

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