Al-Shabaab claims responsibility, 30 killed
Updated: 2013-09-22 04:36
NAIROBI - The death toll in an attack by gunmen on a popular upmarket shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday rose to 30 and dozens of others were wounded, the Kenya Red Cross said.
"Death toll has risen to 30 and over 60 others have been injured and are hospitalized," Kenya Red Cross Society secretary general Abbas Gullet told Xinhua.
He said rescue operation is still underway, expressing fears that there would be more casualties since some of the shoppers are still holed up in the mall. However, Kenya's interior ministry is not sure whether there are hostages inside the mall.
The government said at least 11 people were killed in the attack and 35 others injured.
KCRS officials also told Xinhua that currently there are no Chinese casualties in the attack. The Chinese Embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi said that the preliminary findings showed that there are no Chinese casualties so far in the attack.
Somalia's militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility of the attack, saying in its twitter account "HSM Press Office" that "The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar inside their own turf."
"Since our last contact, the Mujahideen inside the mall confirmed to @HSM_Press that they killed over 100 Kenyan kuffar & battle is ongoing," the group said.
"HSM has on numerous occasions warned the Kenyan government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia would have severe consequences." "The Kenyan government, however, turned a deaf ear to our repeated warnings and continued to massacre innocent Muslims in Somalia," the group said.
"By land, air and sea, #Kenyan forces invaded our Muslim country, killing hundreds of Muslims in the process and displacing thousands more," the group said, adding "The attack at # WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyans invaders."
The group said the attack is "retributive justice for crimes" committed by Kenya's military, and "now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land."
The group said the message sent to the Kenyan government and public "is and has always been just one: remove all your forces from our country."
The East African country has been scrambling with insecurity since October 2011, when the Kenya Defense Forces launched a cross- border incursion into southern Somalia in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants, who had kidnapped several foreigners on the side of Kenya along the border, posing a serious threat to the country's pillar industry of tourism.
In the latest development, Kenyan police said they are holding a suspect in connection to the attack. Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said the suspect believed to have been involved in the attack was escorted to hospital by police in an operation carried out by a contingent of police officers who have surrounded the mall.
"We have detained the Westgate Mall attack suspect in hospital. One gunman was wounded while several others have been pinned down, " Kimaiyo told a news conference in Nairobi.
Kenyan presidency later confirmed that the gunman who had been arrested succumbed to bullet wounds.