At least 69 people are confirmed to have been killed and 63 more recorded missing in an ongoing Nairobi shopping mall siege, Kenya Red Cross said Monday.
The 63 recorded missing are thought to include both hostages still being held by Islamist militants fighting Kenyan troops inside the complex, as well as those possibly killed in the three-day-long siege.
Al-Shabab military commander says reports that some Nairobi attackers are British are untrue. Between 10 and 15 militants believed to be from the Somali al-Shabab Islamist movement are inside the mall.
As the siege at the Westgate shopping centre in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, enters its third day, heavy gunfire has been heard coming from inside. Several blasts are reported at the Westgate shopping centre and smoke can be seen rising from the area.
Fears that the terrorists could have rigged the mall with explosives were cited as one of the reasons why the final assault on the attackers was delayed, Kenyan newspaper The Standard quotes sources as saying, as seen by BBC Monitoring. Another factor that slowed down the assault was the shooting and killing of at least two centre security guards in the early stages of the operation, it reports.
In The Hague, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said it was clear the Nairobi attack was linked to the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia (where they have been fighting the al-Shabab militants since 2011): “It is because of the Somali problem that Kenya is engaged in that these terrorist attacks have been waged on Kenya.”
Earlier, we reported that the ICC had adjourned the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto for a week to allow him to return home to help deal with the current crisis. His lawyer, Karim Khan, told an emergency session of the court: “One wouldn’t have expected, or the world would have found it intolerable, if the president and vice-president of the United States were not in the country after 9/11. Well, this is Kenya’s 9/11.”