Siege at Nairobi mall over, Kenyan president says
Five Islamists shot dead in Nairobi and 11 held; three days of national mourning declared
It described its fighters as “unruffled and strolling around the mall in such sangfroid manner”.
In an audio statement posted via Twitter, al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage called the militants’ action a “deadly thrust” by “loyal soldiers seeking to rewrite history”.
If Kenya failed to pull troops out of Somalia and free al Shabaab prisoners it should “expect black days”.
The attack has come at a time when several violent Islamist groups from Mali to Algeria, Nigeria to Kenya - tapping into local grievances but all espousing an anti-Western, anti-Christian creed - are striking at state authority and international interests.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kenyan military said its forces were carrying out “mop up operations” in the building. The interior ministry earlier said security forces were in control of the mall and that all the hostages had been released. Images from closed-circuit television inside the mall during the attack, published in a Kenyan newspaper today, showed two militants, casually dressed and wearing ammunition belts. One held an assault rifle. Al Shabaab confirmed that the two men were part of the group that attacked Westgate.
Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed told PBS television in the United States that “two or three Americans” and a British woman were among the militants. She said the Americans were “young men, about between maybe 18 and 19” years old. She said they were of Somali or Arab origin and had lived in “in Minnesota and one other place”.
Al Shabaab, which said it had been in communication with its members in the mall, dismissed the minister’s comments. “Those who describe the attackers as Americans and British are people who do not know what is going on in Westgate building,” al Shabaab’s media office told Reuters.
A British security source said it was possible that Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the suicide bombers who killed more than 50 people on London’s transport system in 2005, was involved in the Nairobi siege.
When asked about reports that Lewthwaite, dubbed the “white widow” by the British media, was directly involved in the attack in Kenya, the source said: “It is a possibility. But nothing definitive or conclusive yet.” Born in Banbridge, Co Down, she is thought to have left the UK several years ago and is wanted in connection with an alleged plot to attack hotels and restaurants in Kenya.
US security sources said they were looking into information from Kenya that residents of Western countries, including the United States, may have been among the militants.