Kenyan police kill 2 terrorists in siege

Updated: 2013-09-24 07:17

By Agencies in Nairobi (China Daily)

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Security forces continue battle to free hostages at shopping mall

The Kenyan government confirmed on Monday its security forces have killed two terrorists as the battle to rescue the few remaining hostages gains momentum after more than 30 hours of operation.

Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet secretary in charge of internal security, said the terrorists were killed early on Monday in the operation, adding that the rescue team is gaining an advantage.

"We are certain that more hostages will be rescued. Our officers are gaining control of the building. Most hostages have been rescued, and the process of evacuating hostages has gone on very well," Lenku told a news conference in Nairobi.

Lenku said security forces are close to ending the siege, with Islamist attackers still fighting but left with no way out of the complex.

He also confirmed 62 deaths and cautioned the public to desist from giving misleading information. "We have heightened security at all entries. We can certainly say the country is secured," he said.

The government official said the black smoke billowing out of the Westgate mall was a diversionary tactic by the attackers who wanted to scare away the rescue team.

"The smoke you are seeing on the screens is because mattresses have been set on fire by the attackers to distract our efforts. ... Our forces are in control of the security situation," Lenku told journalists in Nairobi.

The thick smoke billowed from the third floor of the shopping mall as heavy gunfire broke out following an explosion.

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo confirmed that the security forces were trying to gain access from the rooftop of the Westgate mall, saying the forces were making progress in overcoming the Islamist militants.

"Thumbs up to our multi-agency team. We have just managed to rescue some hostages. We are increasingly gaining advantage of the attackers," Kimaiyo said via his Twitter account.

"As we intensify our operations, we urge the public to stay away from Westgate and its environs for their own safety," he added as ambulances were seen rushing to the mall.

Speaking to journalists, Lenku said the government's resolve to save the country has never been higher. "The country is in our hands," he said and clarified that the attackers are all male. "All the terrorists were men, some disguised as women," he said.

'Multinational collection'

Chief of Defense Force General Julius Karangi said the terrorists are a "multinational collection". He assured the country that the soldiers have taken control of all floors.

"All we are we are asking is that they surrender now. There is no going back. The smoke you saw was a distraction on their part. In actual part, an attempted escape," Karangi said.

"We are fighting global terrorism here. These are international criminals. We have control of all the floors but that doesn't mean that terrorists are not around, they could be hiding. We still don't know who the terrorists are. We are doing all we can to get that intelligence," he added.

More than 50 Chinese people in Nairobi donated blood to the wounded on Monday, answering the call from the China General Chamber of Commerce and Kenya Overseas Chinese Association.

Gao Lili, managing director of New Jiangsu Restaurant in Nairobi, was one of those who donated. "We have been here for many years. Nairobi is our home. We have to do something to help our local friends overcome this horrible attack," she said.

Abainassir J. Dahir, technical director of National Blood Transfusion Service of Kenya, said: "We appreciate what the Chinese people have done today. This makes local people feel they are not alone. We have friends from around the world."

China Daily -Xinhua-AFP

 Kenyan police kill 2 terrorists in siege

Kenyan soldiers take cover after heavy gunfire near Westgate mall in Nairobi on Monday. Kenyan troops remained inside the mall, in a standoff with Somali militants after they laid siege to the shopping mall shooting and throwing grenades as they entered. Carl De Souza / Agence France-Presse

Kenyan police kill 2 terrorists in siege

(China Daily 09/24/2013 page11)