59 confirmed dead in terror attack on Kenyan shopping centre
59 people have been killed and 175 injured in an attack on an upmarket Nairobi shopping centre, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed in a press conference on Sunday.
President Kenyatta said the rescue operation continues, with over 1,000 people already having been brought out of the Westgate shopping centre.
The militant Somali group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the incident, saying the attack is in response to Kenyan military action in southern Somalia, where Kenyan troops have been fighting the militants since 2011.
10 to 15 attackers remain inside the building along with a number of civilians who are either hostages or in hiding.
The UK Foreign Office has confirmed three Britons amongst the dead, adding that this number is likely to rise.
French, Canadian and Chinese citizens have also been killed in the attack along with the prominent Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor and President Kenyatta’s nephew and his fiancée.
President Kenyatta has said the militants are now concentrated in one area of the shopping centre.
He has vowed to “punish the masterminds swiftly and painfully”.
There is a heavy military presence in and around the shopping centre with Kenyan officials stating that “major operations” are under way, with police and military personnel preparing an apparent bid to end the current impasse.
The Kenyan president said: “With the professionals on site, we have as good a chance to neutralise the terrorists as we could hope for.”
President Kenyatta expressed his gratitude to all those who have helped with rescue and relief efforts and implored foreign governments not to advise their citizens against visiting Kenya.
People continue to escape from the shopping centre, over 24 hours since the militants entered the building around midday on Saturday.
One escapee, Cecile Ndwiga, who escaped on Sunday morning, described how she had had to remain in hiding in the basement car park overnight because “the shoot-out was all over – left, right”.
Witnesses have described horrific scenes of bodies strewn over tables alongside unfinished fast food.
A number of witnesses have said the militants were targeting non-Muslims.
Elijah Lamau said: “They came and said “If you are Muslim, stand up. We’ve come to rescue you.”
Al-Shabab, which is part of the al-Qaeda network, has frequently threatened to commit terror attacks in Kenya if the country’s government refused to remove its troops from Somalia.