Kenyan President: Hostage Crises at Mall Is Over
Kenya's president is reporting Tuesday afternoon that the hostage crisis at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi is now over.
"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers," President Uhuru Kenyatta said, adding that five of the militants had been killed, and 11 others arrested.
The good news comes hostage situation was in its fourth day Tuesday, as more gunfire erupted and militants insisted that they were still holding live hostages. An estimated 62 people are confirmed dead in the attack that started Saturday when Islamic militants stormed an upscale mall and opened fire. Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group, linked with al Qaeda, is taking responsibility for the attack and says that the attack is even more deadly than the public suspects.
On a Twitter feed reportedly created by al Shabaab, the group tweeted, "There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the mujahideen are still holding their ground." Another tweet referenced remaining hostages, saying that they were, "still alive looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive." The group has also denied rumors that American or British citizens played a role in the attack. "Those who describe the attackers as Americans and British are people who do not know what is going on in Westgate building," the group's media office told Reuters.
That account is at odds with reports from Kenya Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, who said that a British woman was among the militants and that "two or three" Americans were also a part of the group responsible. Some have speculated that the British woman is Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, the man behind a terrorist attack in London on July 7, 2005. Mohamed said that the British woman had "done this many times before".
On Monday, Kenya's Interior Minister said that Kenyan forces were in control of the mall and that most of the hostages had been released. Al Shabaab has said that the mall attack is retribution for Kenyan Troops invading Somalia in 2011. On Tuesday the group tweeted, "You could have avoided all this and lived your lives with relative safety...Remove your forces from our country and peace will come."