The Westgate Shopping Centre is on fire and a fierce gun battle is underway as Kenyan special forces try to end the three day siege that has killed at least 69 people
- Westgate Shopping Centre on fire amid fears that terrorists have carried out suicide bomb attack
- Architect Ross Langdon, who had dual Australian and British nationality, is confirmed among the dead
- His Harvard-educated girlfriend Elif Yavuz was also killed. She was two weeks away from giving birth
- Foreign Office confirmed on Monday that four Britons have been killed in the atrocity
- Kenyan government says two militants have died in battle to retake the building
- Claims that five of the attackers are American and two are British
- Kenyan military official says terrorists are a ‘multinational collection from all over the world’
- Al Shabaab militants today said they would kill the remaining hostages inside the Westgate Shopping Centre
- Kenyan official reveals he suspects the involvement of fugitive 7/7 ‘white widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite
- Men, women and children slaughtered if they could not recite Koran or name Prophet Mohammed’s mother
- Terrorists told French citizen ‘they want to kill Kenyans and Americans’
The Daily Mail
Kenyan special forces were today locked in a fight to the death with Islamic terrorists who have been barricaded inside a Nairobi mall with up to 40 hostages since Saturday.
Witnesses described hearing four large explosions at the Westgate Shopping Centre followed by fierce gun fire after the military tried to break the three day siege by gaining access from the roof.
It is feared that some of the gunmen inside may have blown themselves up, though a Kenyan government minister said that militants had set fire to some mattresses in a supermarket as a decoy.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that two of the terrorists had been killed and that most hostages were now free. All of the militants were men, he added, although some were dressed as women.
So far, 69 people have been confirmed dead including four Britons. At least 175 were injured, including children.
Thick clouds of dense black smoke billowed from the complex after a series of loud explosions and heavy gunfire.
The area around the mall was teeming with Kenyan soldiers and armoured personnel carriers, as emergency workers and reporters were told to take cover.
A top military official said he believes the attackers are ‘a multinational collection from all over the world.’
Kenya Chief of Defence forces General Julius Karangi said fighters from an array of nations participated in the attack claimed by Al Shabaab, a Somali group allies with al-Qaida.
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- The Twitter terrorists: How killers boasted of Kenyan mall carnage with live commentary as they murdered dozens of people
‘We have an idea who this people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world,’ he said.
‘We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number. We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient intel (intelligence) to suggest that.’
A Twitter account claiming to represent Al Shabaab yesterday claimed that terrorists from seven nations are involved in the attack, including the U.S., Britain and Canada.
The HSM Press Office account, which has been suspended twice, claimed the group were Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, from London, UK; Gen Mustafe Noorduiin, 27, from Kansas City, U.S., Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid, 24, from Minneapolis, U.S., and Ahmed Mohamad Isse, 22, from Saint Paul, U.S; Ismael Guled, 23, from Finland; Abdirizak Mouled, 24, from Ontario, Canada; and Zaki Jama Caraale, 20, and Sayid Nuh, 25, both from Somalia.
Police chief David Kimaiyo said today that some hostages have been freed. However, a group claiming to represent the Al Shabaab terrorists said they are still fighting inside the building.
In a message on Twitter Mr Kimaiyo wrote: ‘Thumbs up to our multi-agency team, we have just managed to rescue some hostages. We’re increasingly gaining advantage of the attackers.’
The HSM Press Office account, which has been suspended twice and claims to have contact with the terrorists inside, wrote today: ‘They’ve obtained large amounts of ammunition and are, by the blessings of Allah alone, still firm and still dominating the show #Westgate.’
In other messages posted today, the group said the Westgate atrocity was ‘borne out of injustice’ and Kenyan security forces will be ‘exterminated’ if they try to enter the mall through the roof.
A Kenyan special forces officer said troops had moved in to end the siege with force.
‘I saw them only once, I could not see them much,” he said. ‘It was hide-and-seek, hide-and-seek, hide-and-seek. In the end we had to use full force, we had to finish with these guys.’
This morning it emerged that a British man had lost his wife and daughter in the massacre while a prize winning architect, who had joint British and Australian nationality was also among the dead.
The Foreign Office confirmed today that four Britons have now been killed in the atrocity.
Ross Langdon, 33, was killed alongside his heavily pregnant Dutch partner Elif Yavuz. The malaria specialist was just two weeks away from giving birth.
Kenyan troops have moved in to end the siege but spokesman for terror group Al Shabaab Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement posted on an Islamist website that those held inside will ‘bear the brunt of any force’ used by soldiers against the militants.
The statement read: ‘We authorise the mujahedeen inside the building to take actions against the prisoners as much as they are pressed.
‘We are telling Christians advancing onto the mujahedeen to have mercy for their prisoners who will bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahedeen.’
The Al-Qaeda linked group claimed to be in contact with the fighters inside the mall and said the gunmen were battling both Kenyan and Israeli forces.
As the stand-off entered its third day, sustained bursts of rapid gunfire erupted at dawn and lasted 15 minutes, and soldiers posted around the complex ducked for cover.
This was followed by three big explosions, AFP correspondents at the scene said.
The Shebab have not said how many people were being held by the dozen-or-so attackers, who marched into the Israeli-owned four-storey complex at midday Saturday, spraying shoppers with machine gunfire and tossing grenades.
One security officer said within half-an-hour of the attack the mall had been turned into ‘an abattoir’ as gunmen wearing Islamic scarves but Western clothes went on the rampage.
At least 69 people have been killed so far – including three Britons – and 175 people have been left injured.
Those caught up in the atrocity come from 13 different countries including the U.S., France, Ghana, New Zealand and Holland.
Today, tributes began to pour in to Mr Langdon, 33, who was the founding director of the architecture firm Regional Associates, and his partner on social media sites.
Sydney architect Marcus Trimble wrote: ‘Horrible news that Ross Langdon and his wife were killed in the Nairobi attacks.
Designer Liane Rossler said the couple were ‘very special souls’.
Kenya Security personnel take cover outside the Westgate Mall. Islamist terror group Al Shabaab claimed it carried out the atrocity in which three Britons were killed and 175 people were left injured
Australian media said Mr Langdon grew up in Tasmania and worked around the world, including in Uganda and Rwanda.
In 2010, Mr Langdon received the University of Sydney’s Young Alumni Award in recognition of his pursuit of excellence in the field of architecture on projects located across Australia, Europe and Africa.
Mr Langdon had been involved with a number of projects across Africa, which included designing an HIV-Aids hospital in Kenya free of charge.
He could be seen photographed with Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, in a picture posted on his Facebook profile earlier this year.
Harvard graduate Ms Yavuz was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her death.
The malaria specialist was working in Kenya for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation run by the billionaire Microsoft founder.
On her Facebook profile she was photographer shaking hands with former US President Bill Clinton during a visit to a Gates Foundation project last month.
Born in Holland, Ms Yavuz had lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while studying at the reknowned Harvard University.
The three other Britons killed in the atrocity have yet to be named.
One man, who did not want to be named, told the Daily Telegraph that his wife and children had been murdered and he has seen photographs of their bodies, which were taken by soldiers and paramedics inside the building.
It is believed that one of the leaders of the attack is the white English widow of a 7/7 bomber.
Al Shabaab said on Twitter last night that Samantha Lewthwaite, the ‘white widow’ of London bomber Jermaine Lindsay, was ‘in their ranks’ and a ‘brave lady’.
Soldiers said a white woman wearing a veil was shouting orders to gunmen in Arabic during the bloody massacre inside the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
The Foreign Office is investigating the claims about Lewthwaite, who is wanted by Kenyan police over links to a suspected terrorist cell planning bomb attacks.
‘WE ONLY WANT TO KILL KENYANS AND AMERICANS': EXTRAORDINARY ESCAPE OF FRENCH FAMILY
A French woman said she was freed by the Islamic terrorists because they told her they only wanted to kill Kenyans and Americans.
The woman, who only gave her name as Pauline, said she escaped with her two young children, who were given Mars bars by the gunmen.
Pauline said she was asked for forgiveness by the terrorists who told her ‘we are not monsters’.
The mother of two, who was in the supermarket when the attack began, said once she agreed Muslims were not ‘bad people’ they gave her children, Emily, 6, and Eliot, 4, chocolate.
She told The Independent: ‘He said we only only want to kill Kenyans and Americans. He then told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said “do you forgive us? do you forgive us?’
She said she was able to escape with another two children, including a wounded 12-year-old boy whose mother had been murdered.
Terrified children wait by the body of a man after escaping from the shopping centre. Militants have today threatened to kill the remaining hostages
Fleeing: A child runs to safety across the shopping mall following the deadly attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Three Britons have been killed in the attack
Terror: Armed police guide a woman carrying a child to safety at Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi
Desperation: A crowd of people hold their arms out to catch a Kenyan woman as she jumps out from the air vent where she had been hiding from the gunmen
Today, David Cameron said he is returning to Downing Street to oversee the response to the terror attack.
The Prime Minister, who has warned the country to be braced for ‘more bad news’, is cutting short a Balmoral visit to chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting this afternoon.
The Foreign Office confirmed four Britons had died after Defence Secretary Philip Hammond chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in Whitehall.
A person with knowledge of the rescue operation told AP that no hostages had been released or rescued overnight. The person insisted on anonymity in order to talk about the rescue response.
The attacks have a chilling similarity to those in Mumbai in 2008 where terrorist besieged hotels, community centres and streets in 12 co-ordinated attacks, leaving more than 170 dead.
69 DEAD AND 175 INJURED FROM 13 NATIONS: DETAILS OF KENYA TERRORIST ATTACK VICTIMS BEGIN TO EMERGE
KENYA President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew and nephew’s fiancee were killed
GHANA Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, professor and former ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations, died after being wounded in the attack, Ghana’s presidential office confirmed.
Ghana’s ministry of information said Awoonor’s son was injured and is responding to treatment.
CANADA Two Canadians, including a diplomat, died in the attack, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He paid tribute to the victims and noted the loss of diplomat Annemarie Desloges, who served in Canada’s High Commission to Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency.
Her spouse Robert Munk was wounded in the attack, but has since been released from the hospital, the Canadian Press reported.
INDIA Two Indians, 8-year-old Parmashu Jain and 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan, were killed, and four others were wounded in the attack.
BRITAIN The Foreign Office have confirmed that four UK nationals have been killed in the attack.
Prize-winning architect Ross Langdon, who had dual British and Australian citizenship, is believed to be one of the dead.
A British man, who refused to give his name, said his wife and daughter were both killed in the atrocity.
The Foreign Office warned the number of British dead is ‘likely to rise as further information becomes available.’
FRANCE Two French women were killed, President Francois Hollande said.
SOUTH AFRICA One South African citizen was killed, according to the country’s International Relations Department.
THE NETHERLANDS A 33-year-old Dutch woman died in the attack, believed to be Elif Yavuz, the heavily pregnant partner of British architect Mr Langdon.
Seven other Dutch citizens who were in the mall escaped unharmed, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman with the surname Zhou who worked in the real estate industry was killed in the attack, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Her son was injured in the attack and was in stable condition in a hospital, according to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya.
PERU A retired staff member of UNICEF from Peru was killed, the agency’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa said.
U.S. Five American citizens were injured, U.S. officials said.
NEW ZEALAND Andrew McLaren, 34, a New Zealander who managed a factory in Kenya for the avocado oil company Olivado, was wounded in the attack, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed. He was hospitalised in stable condition.
Distressing: A woman holds a baby sitting with other injured people who are crying for help after gunmen went on a shooting spree in the Westgate shopping centre
Shock: A soldier directs people up stairs inside the Westgate shopping mall. Some fled and sought refuge in shops, bank vaults and store rooms as grenades exploded and bullets fired around them
The UK has offered Kenya assistance, including intelligence co-operation, in response to the attack by Islamic extremists in the upmarket shopping centre.
A military spokesman admitted this morning that the situation is still unclear.
‘We are yet to get confirmation from what’s happening in the building,’ Col. Cyrus Oguna, a Kenyan military spokesman.
The Kenyan military launched a large military assault on the mall shortly before sundown on Sunday, with one helicopter skimming very close to the roof of the shopping complex as a loud explosion rang out, far larger than any previous grenade blast or gunfire volley.
With horrific cruelty, militants have reportedly cut the hands off the bodies of their victims and burned their faces to try to conceal their identities.
The massacre began on Saturday shortly before midday local time. Witnesses told how terrorists, their faces hidden with Islamic scarves, stormed the shopping mall and started tossing grenades and spraying shoppers with AK-47s.
The gunmen ordered all Muslims to leave before carrying out rudimentary tests to see if hostages could recite the Koran and name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed.
As soldiers began working their way through the shopping centre yesterday they discovered that piles of bodies had been pushed against doors to slow their progress.
Reports on where the terrorists are holed up differ, with some reports suggesting they have barricaded themselves and dozens of hostages in a toilet block on the ground floor.
Stories from survivors of the carnage from inside the building have begun to emerge.
Hunting down the terrorists: Soldiers from the Kenya Defence Forces arrive at the Westgate Shopping Centre in the capital Nairobi
A French woman, known only as Pauline, said the terrorists told her they only wanted to kill Kenyans and Americans.
Late on Sunday, Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre said on Twitter that ‘this will end tonight. Our forces will prevail.’
As well as boasting Lewthwaite was with them, Al Shabaab claimed two British men from London, Liban Adam, 23, and Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, were among the ‘holy warriors’ in the attack.
The group is said to be highly organised, with huge amounts of ammunition as well as night vision equipment. They have destroyed CCTV cameras inside the shopping mall, meaning they cannot be watched.
Security forces, receiving advice from Western and Israeli experts said they had secured the bulk of the complex by Sunday, freeing many people who had hidden in terror.
In Somalia, Kenya’s northern neighbour devastated by two decades of civil war, a spokesman for al Shabaab said President Uhuru Kenyatta must pull out Kenyan troops, who have pushed the militants on to the defensive over the past two years as part of an African Union-backed peacekeeping mission. Kenyatta refused.
The president, who lost a nephew in Saturday’s killing, vowed to hold firm in the ‘war on terror’ in Somalia and said, cautiously, that Kenyan forces could end the siege.
‘I assure Kenyans that we have as good a chance to successfully neutralise the terrorists as we can hope for,’ he said. ‘We will punish the masterminds swiftly and painfully.’
Late on Sunday, Oguna said that many of the rescued hostages – who he said were mostly adults – were suffering from dehydration.
Terrified shoppers fled and hid in storerooms, restaurants and a cinema, with the wounded being carried out in shopping trolleys.
Shoppers who were able to prove they were Muslim were among the 1,000 who escaped unharmed, while those who failed were shot for being ‘kafir’, a derogatory term for non-Muslims. One man, who hid in a box of cartons, said: ‘If they had found me… I’m white and so I’m dead. They hate your skin colour.’
Those killed so far vary in age from two to 78.
A spokesman for Al Shabaab, the East African arm of Al-Qaeda, said all Britons in Kenya are ‘legitimate’ targets because the UK has supported the African country’s military intervention in neighbouring Somalia.
The Twitter account purporting to belong to the terrorist organisation also said ‘there would be no negotiations whatsoever’.
The siege of the Israeli-owned mall bears all the hallmarks of Muslim-convert Lewthwaite, 29, who is on the run in East Africa after Kenyan police foiled her plot to blow up a shopping centre and two hotels in Mombasa two years ago.
Hands up: Hostages of all nationalities head for the exit with their arms raised to show they are not carrying any weapons
Scramble: People crawl on their stomachs to safety as security forces keep a lookout at the Nairobi mall on Saturday
The Home Counties mother-of-four is now one of the main financiers and bomb-making tutors for Al Shabaab.
A senior Kenyan terrorist official said last night: ‘I suspect this woman is behind this attack because she has been financing the activities of the Al-Qaeda cell in Mombasa.’
Last night British, US and Israeli security forces joined their Kenyan counterparts to try to regain control of the mall.
There were unconfirmed reports that some hostages had been executed after attempts by the military to launch an assault on the roof.
Judges at the International Criminal Court adjourned the trial of Kenyan Vice President William Ruto today for a week to allow him to return home to deal with the hostage crisis.
Ruto and Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, face charges of crimes against humanity in relation to their role in coordinating a wave of violence that swept Kenya in the aftermath of the country’s contested 2007 elections.
The court’s unusually swift decision was taken during an emergency session after prosecutors said they had no objection to a short delay in proceedings, and a representative for the witnesses broke down in tears in the courtroom, saying Ruto should be allowed to attend to the urgent matter.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2429784/Terro
Tags: al Qaeda-linked, Al Shabaab Ali Mohamud Rage, Al-Shabaab, American citizens, American citizens in al-Shabaab, Elif Yavuz, Islamic terrorists, Kenya, mujahedeen, Nairobi, Nairobi mall, Ross Langdon, Shopping Centre, shopping mall, Somali Islamists, Somalia, some militants were men dressed as women, terrorism, true path of Islam, Westgate