Over 68 Dead and 100 Injured as Westgate Mall Hostage Standoff Continues in Nairobi
The militant attack on the exclusive Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya, has left at least 68 dead and over 175 wounded, as the stand-off between police and terrorists continued overnight.
Gunfire carried on throughout the night and over into Sunday morning, almost 24 hours after the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group, Al Shabaab, burst into the mall and attacked shoppers with AK47s and grenades.
The cabinet secretary for the interior, Joseph Ole Lenku, has said that over 1,000 people have been safely evacuated from the shopping center, but officials told CNN that at least 30 hostages remain trapped inside.
Between 10 and 15 gunmen are thought to have carried out the attack, Lenku added, tweeting that the "situation is very fragile" because of the "innocent people in the building."
Late Saturday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose nephew and nephew's fiancee were reportedly among those killed in the rampage, made a televised address in which he offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
"I know what you feel having also personally lost very close family members in this attack," Kenyatta said.
Several Americans were also reportedly among those injured in the attack, and the wife of one U.S. citizen has been killed as well.
“We have lost a member of our own State Department family: the wife of a foreign service national working for the U.S. Agency for International Development," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. "While we mourn with her family today, we also pledge our commitment to do whatever we can to assist in bringing the perpetrators of this abhorrent violence to justice, and to continue our efforts to improve the lives of people across the globe.”
The celebrated Ghanaian writer and poet Kofi Awoonor — who was also Ghana's Ambassador to the United Nations in the 1990's, heading the committee against apartheid — was also among those killed yesterday.The attack is the deadliest Nairobi has seen in years — the last terrorist assault this big was the 1998 bombing of a U.S. Embassy that killed 200 people. Al Shaabab — which has previously issued public threats against Kenya, and the popular Westgate mall in particular — claimed responsibility for the assault via their twitter account soon after the assault began.