Armed police leave after entering the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. — Photo AP
The fate of the remaining hostages in the Kenyan Mall in Nairobi certainly doesn't look promising as the al Shabaab jihadis from Somalia have not budged - the latest reports are of explosions as the Kenyan military and security forces try to rescue those hostages.
For anyone thinking those hostages might get released, forget it. Either they will die or their captors will die - nothing in between.
The updated story comes from DAWN.
Gunfire, explosions as Kenyan troops battle to save mall hostages
NAIROBI: A series of loud explosions and heavy gunfire was heard at Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall Monday as dense black smoke billowed from the complex, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The area around the mall was teeming with Kenyan soldiers and armoured personnel carriers, as emergency workers and reporters were told to take cover.
Ambulances were also seen accelerating towards the scene.
The mall has been under siege by Al Qaeda-linked Somali gunmen since Saturday in an attack that has killed at least 69 people, with another 63 reported missing.
As the stand-off entered its third day, sustained bursts of rapid gunfire broke out at dawn, and soldiers posted around the complex ducked for cover.
This was followed by explosions and more sporadic weapons fire, AFP correspondents at the scene said.
The Kenyan army said it had secured most of the upmarket, part Israeli-owned complex, while a security official said a final assault was underway against the Somali Shebab rebels, believed to be pinned down in a part of the mall but using hostages as human shields.
“We have managed to rescue more hostages overnight and very few are remaining,” Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said Monday, in the latest of a string of upbeat statements. “We are also closing in on the attackers.”
Officials have not said how many people were being held by the dozen-or-so attackers, who marched into the sprawling four-storey complex at midday Saturday, spraying shoppers with machine gun fire and tossing grenades.
Shebab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage warned the hostages would “bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahideen”.
However, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed the attackers will “not get away with their despicable and beastly acts.” ”We will punish the masterminds swiftly, and indeed very painfully,” he vowed in a speech Sunday, revealing that a family member — a nephew and his fiancee — were among the dead.
A Kenyan security source and a Western intelligence official said Israeli forces were involved in the operation, along with British and US agents.
Bodies still inside
Terrified witnesses told of scenes of horror and panic as the masked gunmen stormed in. Officials estimated some 200 people have been wounded, and the Red Cross made a nationwide appeal for blood donors.
The Shebab rebels said the carnage was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.
“If you want Kenya in peace, it will not happen as long as your boys are in our lands,” rebel spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement posted on an Islamist website.
The group also issued a string of statements via Twitter, one of them claiming that Muslims in the centre had been “escorted out by the mujahideen before beginning the attack”.
A number of witnesses have been quoted as saying that the gunmen were trying to weed out non-Muslims for execution by interrogating people on their faith or asking them to recite the Shahada, or Muslim profession of faith.
The dead include four Britons, two French women, two Canadians including a diplomat, a Chinese woman, two Indians, a South Korean, a South African and a Dutch woman, according to their governments. Also killed was Ghanaian poet and former UN envoy Kofi Awoonor, 78, while his son was injured.
Prime Minister David Cameron was due Monday to chair a meeting of Britain's emergency response committee COBRA over the crisis in the Kenyan capital
Rumours swirled that non-Somalis and women were among the fighters but the Shebab have denied such press reports.
'People sprayed with bullets'
Mall worker Zipporah Wanjiru, who emerged from the ordeal alive but in a state of shock, said she hid under a table with five other colleagues.
“They were shooting indiscriminately, it was like a movie seeing people sprayed with bullets like that,” she said, bursting into tears.
Security camera footage seen by Kenya's The Standard newspaper showed gunmen raking toilet cubicles with a barrage of gunfire, apparently after learning that several people were hiding inside.
Fighters later holed up in a cinema on the top floor and a security room of a supermarket, the paper added.
Cafe waiter Titus Alede, who leapt from the first floor of the mall to avoid being killed, said it was a “miracle from God” that he managed to escape the approaching gunmen.
“I remember them saying 'you killed our people in Somalia, it is our time to pay you back',” he said.
Other survivors said they played dead to avoid being killed.
In the hours after the attack began, shocked people of all ages and races could be seen running from the mall, some clutching babies, while others crawled along walls to avoid stray bullets.
Israeli interests in Kenya have come under attack before, and the Westgate mall — popular with well-to-do Kenyans, diplomats, UN workers and other expatriates — has long been seen as a potential target.
World powers condemned the attack, which is the worst in Nairobi since an Al Qaeda bombing at the US embassy killed more than 200 people in 1998.
US President Barack Obama called Kenyatta offering support “to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice”, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the violence was “totally reprehensible".