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article imageTerror attack turns Nairobi Westgate mall into war zone

By Abdul Kuddus     Sep 21, 2013 in World
Nairobi - A terror attack at an upscale shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi turned into a war zone. The death toll so far is estimated to have reached 39, according to reports.
Gunmen stormed the Westgate Mall Saturday, opened fire and took an unknown number of hostages according to Kenya government sources, CNN reported.
Reportedly negotiations are on to release the hostages and secure the building. At least 36 hostages are still being held by the gunmen inside the mall.
At least 100 people have been injured in the attack and majority of the casualties are Kenyan citizens.
Reportedly, the Kenyan army has been given the task to secure the four-story mall floor by floor. Two armoured vehicles, an army helicopter also joined the police in the operation.
The New York Times reported:
“At nightfall, the mall remained sealed off to the public as police officers and soldiers searched floor by floor for the gunmen, who were still believed to be inside with hostages.”
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported:
“The attackers remained inside and firing subsided as military surrounded the mall hours after the attack. People continued to trickle out from hiding places within the Westgate mall, which is frequented by expatriates and rich Kenyans in Nairobi's affluent Westlands neighbourhood.” .
The attackers have been isolated and have been forced in an area on one of the floors, according to reports.
Witnesses at the mall described hearing explosions and gunfire as they fled, leaving behind blood, dead and wounded in what could be one of the worst terrorist attacks in the Kenya’s history.
Reportedly the attackers used AK-47 rifles and threw grenades inside the mall.
According to Marie Harf, a Kenyan government official, several Americans were among the wounded. However he declined to elaborate citing privacy reasons.
Shabab, the violent Somali militant group that carried out other attacks in Kenya, declared in a series of Twitter posts that it members were responsible for the massacre, according to reports.
The New York Times reported:
“Benson Kibue, the Nairobi police chief, told The Associated Press that it was a terrorist attack and that there were probably no more than 10 gunmen involved.”
Following the attack on Kenyan Mall, Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sent condolences to the people of Kenya.
"These heartless acts against defenceless civilians, including innocent children, are beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Kenya in its time of grief for these lives lost and the many injured," he said.
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