Death toll from Nairobi mall attack expected to rise
More than 60 people still unaccounted for, with 67 already confirmed dead
Relatives and friends carry the coffin of Ruhila Adatia Sood, a Radio Africa television and radio presenter, during her funeral ceremony today. The country is observing three days of national mourning as security forces begin the task of clearing and securing the Westgate shopping mall following a four-day siege by militants. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
The death toll from the attack by al-Shabab militants on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi is expected to rise from the current level of 67, with more than 60 people apparently yet to be accounted for.
Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud warned such attacks may become more frequent as al-Shabab attempts to reassert its dwindling power base.
He told Channel 4 News: “Some people sometimes mix the issues that Shabab want an Islamic state in Somalia — that’s not true. Shabab want a unified (one) state all over the world.
“They do not believe in borders, they do not believe in sovereignty, so their theme is global, it’s not even regional.”
He warned: “They may do this act again and again.
“The act is of a dying organisation. You see Shabab now they control remote parts of Somalia, where they are still using as their training territory, where they are still using as a bomb factory, where they still have in the training centre special units that brainwash the young people from within Somalia, out of Somalia. So, these types of things will continue.”
The full “forensic audit” of the Nairobi shopping mall terror attack will take at least seven days to complete, the country’s interior minister has said.
Joseph Ole Lenku said it was still not known whether there were any Britons or Americans among the al Qaeda-linked militants or whether any of them was a woman.
“In our previous briefings we indicated that there was no indication to suggest that there is a woman terrorist but going forward we are all hearing possibilities and information — including volunteers from the public,” he told reporters.
“We want to again request you to allow the forensic experts to determine whether that is true.”
The persistent suggestion that a woman was involved led to speculation that it could be Northern Irish woman Samantha Lewthwaite — who was married to the July 7th bomber Jermaine Lindsay.
Interpol issued a “Red Alert” for Ms Lewthwaite today at Kenya’s request. She is wanted over alleged involvement in a plot to bomb holiday resorts there. There has been no evidence to link her to the shopping mall attack.
Mr Lenku said the forensic teams — including experts from the US, Israel, Germany, Canada and Interpol — were examining fingerprint, DNA and ballistics evidence in the hunt for clues.
The Kenyan authorities have said that 61 civilians and six members of the Kenyan security forces were known to have died during the stand-off. Five terrorists were also killed while 10 suspects remain in custody in relation to the incident.
A British businessman paid tribute to his wife who died in the attack by the Somali Islamist group which ended on Tuesday, after four days.
Niall Saville, an economic development consultant from Lincolnshire who was shot in the shoulder in the siege, has been left “devastated and heartbroken” after Moon Hee Kang died from wounds received in a grenade explosion.