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Sad news: 39 dead, 150 wounded in Kenya mall massacre (PHOTOS)

 

Deadly: Armed police search Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi for the last remaining gunmen

Kenyan police and soldiers have pinned down the remaining gunmen who opened fire at a shopping centre earlier today, killing 30 and leaving at least 50 others injured.

Gunmen massacre at least 25 in Kenyan shopping mall

A security source at the scene in the capital Nairobi confirmed moments ago the attackers have been isolated. The source said:

‘The attackers have been isolated and are pinned down in an area on one of the floors – the rest of the mall seems to be secure.’ No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is looking increasingly likely the Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab may be responsible.

A statement released through its Twitter account said it warned Kenya to pull its troops out of Somalia. However, the group has did not take responsibility for the attack. One witness who was embroiled in the situation claimed that the gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave and that only non-Muslims would be targeted when they opened fire at the upmarket mall of the Westlands district around midday.

Victims: Dead bodies removed from the scene lay covered up outside in a car park

At least two dozen people, wounded and dead, were wheeled out on stretchers and in shopping trolleys by security guards, while others were seen walking out of the building, clutching bloodied clothing around their injuries. Locals and tourists who were out shopping on the sunny Saturday in Kenya ran screaming from the building and cars were left abandoned as attackers threw grenades and fired AK47s.

Over the course of an hour people streamed from the building, at least half a dozen covered in blood and clutching small children to them. The Kenya Red Cross Society now says that 22 have been reported dead and at least 50 wounded. At least nine people were carried out of the building bleeding from wounds to their limbs and two others were wheeled unconscious from the scene in shopping trolleys. A young boy is believed to have been among those killed.

Escape: Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen who went on a shooting spree in Westgate shopping centre

At a news conference, Internal Security Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo said ‘terrorists and threats have been present in Kenya for quite some time now’. The army, including special forces, have now been drafted in to help police flush out the gunmen. Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Guled said:

‘The casualties are many, and that’s only what we have on the outside. Inside there are even more casualties and shooting is still going on.’ There were unconfirmed reports of two large explosions, with several smaller explosions. Two people were reportedly injured on the road. ‘We have officers at the scene trying to get out the group shooting inside. They have not been located,’ a senior police official said. ‘Officers are approaching the situation with caution because there are innocent civilians inside,’ he said.

Nairobi Mall Paramedics help an injured victim after a shooting spree

Armed police arrived on the scene nearly half an hour later and could be heard shouting ‘get out, get out’ as scores of shoppers fled the building. Smoke billowed out of the entrance, which was believed to have been caused by the grenade attack.

Dutch embassy employee Rob Vandijk said he had been eating at a restaurant in the shopping mall when gunmen threw hand grenades inside the building. People began to scream and drop to the ground, he said, as machine gun fire rang out across the busy mall.

Rescue: A policeman carries a baby to safety on the barrel of his gun while a woman ducks for safety behind him

Officials have not given the exact death toll as police and gunmen are continuing to exchange fire, but reporters said they had seen at least 15 bodies.

Police say that attackers are holding seven hostages in the building, and other people remain hidden inside.

‘I saw three of the attackers dressed in black and with covered faces and they were carrying heavy rifles,’ said another witness.

Kenyan soldiers were also deployed to take part in the operation to bring the shopping complex back under control.

Police helicopters circled over the building as sporadic gunfire could be heard more than two hours after the attack was launched.

Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in central Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood.

Manish Turohit, 18, who escaped after hiding in the parking garage for two hours, says he saw gunmen with AK-47s and vests with hand grenades on them inside the centre.

Police initially believed the attack was an attempt by about ten armed men to rob a shop.

But Elijah Kamau, a witness, told AP that the gunmen had announced that they were targeting non-Muslims as they began their attack at the centre.

Some of those who escaped were ‘challenged to recite a Muslim prayer and were then let out’, according to Allan Sayers, who contacted MailOnline and said he was in the Westgate mall five minutes before the attack.

Scramble: People rush for safety away from gunfire between police and armed attackers

Mr Sayers said people were still in text and phone contact with some of the hostages.

‘There are still many hostages still inside and reports of many more dead,’ he said.

Now Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue has said it was a terrorist attack and the Kenya Ministry of Interior has said the shooting may have been an ‘attack by terrorists’.

‘They don’t seem like thugs, this is not a robbery incident,’ said Yukeh Mannasseh who was on the top floor when the shooting started.

‘It seems like an attack. The guards who saw them said they were shooting indiscriminately.’

Somali’s rebel group al-Shabab vowed in late 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya’s sending of troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic insurgents.

The Somali militant group al-Shabaab had earlier threatened to strike the mall, as it is a popular destination for the city’s expatriate community.

However, no one has yet to claim responsibility for the assault.

One victim said that he had been shot by a man who appeared to be Somali, while others noted the gunmen were speaking in a foreign language.

‘The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. There are definitely many casualties,’ Sudjar Singh, who works at the shopping centre, told AFP.

Devastating: Injured people receive assistance from bypassers at the scene of the shooting

‘I saw three of the attackers dressed in black and with covered faces and they were carrying heavy rifles,’ said another witness.

Errol Fernandes, a Kenyan businessman said: ‘There were two guys – they came in from the car park on the roof. One had dreadlocks, he had an AK47 and was firing randomly.

‘I just ran into the café kitchen and then we all hid in the refrigerator, until we were told to run out of the fire escape.

‘I’m sure there must be many dead and injured.’

‘The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. There are definitely many casualties,’ Sudjar Singh, who works at the shopping centre, told AFP

‘I saw three of the attackers dressed in black and with covered faces and they were carrying heavy rifles,’ said another witness.

Kenyan soldiers were also deployed to take part in the operation to bring the shopping complex back under control.

Police helicopters circled over the building as sporadic gunfire could be heard more than two hours after the attack was launched.

Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in central Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood.

Kenya’s interior minister said the mall shooting may be “an attack by terrorists.”

“It is a possibility that it is an attack by terrorists, so we are treating the matter very seriously,” Mutea Iringo, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Interior told Reuters.

Asked if foreign security services were involved in the operation to flush out the attackers, he said, ‘At this stage it has not become necessary yet.’

The picture above prompted a woman to contact MailOnline, saying the woman with the two children is her sister-in-law.

‘These aren’t all nameless individuals, these are real people and don’t me and my family know it today,’ she said.

‘What the picture doesn’t show is the gun shot wound she has just come out of surgery for.

‘Brave woman who I am so proud to call my family.’

An AFPTV reporter said police and security guards were trying to secure a multi-screen cinema complex inside the mall where many had taken shelter.

The reporter said she saw at least 20 people rescued from a toy shop on one of the upper floors of the building.

A shop manager who managed to escape said it had appeared ‘the shooters had taken control of all the mall’.

Attacks by Somali Islamists in Kenya often involve gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades, with targets including bars, nightclubs and restaurants in various parts of the country.

There was a suspected al-Shabaab attack which left five dead and three injured at a restaurant in the eastern city of Garissa in January, and in August last year one person was killed and six more were left injured in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi on the eve of a visit by Hillary Clinton, then the United States secretary of state.

Last month 18 of the 19 US embassies and consulates across the Middle East and Africa were closed after a message between al Qaida officials about plans for a major terror attack was intercepted.

The Foreign Office says it is ‘urgently looking into’ the incident and has echoed Kenyan police with warnings to Britons to avoid the area.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: ‘We are in close contact with the Kenyan authorities on the ground in Kenya and at ministerial level in the United Kingdom.

‘The prime consideration at present is the welfare of members of the public caught up in this incident.’

Read more: Daily Mail


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