September 21, 2013 (NAIROBI) - The Somali militant Islamic group, Al-Shabaab on Saturday claimed carrying out an afternoon attack in an upscale Nairobi shopping centre that Kenyan Red Cross says left 30 dead and 60 injured.
- Armed police search Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, September 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
The injured are being treated in local hospitals. Authorities say the death toll is expected to rise.
The hooded and armed gunmen numbering about 10 stormed Westgate Mall; a shopping centre frequented by wealthy Kenyans and westerners, and started shooting randomly.
A similar attack was carried out on Saturday at about the same time in Mogadishu’s Bakata market.
Kenyan police initially said it was an armed robbery but later blamed it on a ‘‘well organised terrorist gang’’.
At the time of filing this report the armed attackers were suspected to be holding an unknown number of hostages inside the mall. The nationalities of those being held are unknown, but it is suspected the hostages may include some foreigners notably British and Americans.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office said it was making an effort to find out if any Britons are among those killed.
Kenyan security said one suspected Al- Shabaab militant was killed while another who was injured during a shoot out with Kenyan security is being held at a Nairobi hospital.
Some media reports said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were helping their Kenyan counterparts with investigations.
The Permanent Secretary Kenya’s Internal Security, Mutea Iringo said the government was in- charge of handling the aftermath of the attack
"The government is now fully in charge of the situation. The security services will soon bring this matter of grave concern under control."
Deputy President William Ruto who is in The Hague facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court promised justice for the victims of the attack.
"The Government will bring the siege to end and will get to the bottom of the attack. We will bring to account the perpetrators and their accomplices," Ruto said.
The Al-Shabaab has carried out several attacks in Kenya since 2011 when Kenya sent troops to Somalia under the auspices of the African Union (AU) to fight the militant group alongside the Somalia national army.
Uganda, which first sent troops to Somalia was in July 2010 attacked when the Al-Shabaab detonated bombs at a popular rugby ground in Kampala and an Ethiopian restaurant killing 74 people most of them soccer fans watching a World Cup game.
Western nations have condemned the attacks while the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was ‘‘closely following’’ events in Nairobi.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo tweeted: ‘‘Dear Sisters and colleague: #Kenyans affected & leaders are in our thoughts. You’ll overcome!’’