Islamists claim gun attack on Nairobi mall, 39 dead
Updated: 2013-09-22 04:36
Paramedics help an injured victim after a shooting spree at Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi September 21, 2013. [Agencies]
The shopping centre includes a number of Israeli-owned businesses, though it was not immediately clear if these had been targeted specifically. At least four Israeli nationals escaped the assault, one with light wounds.
"As of now, this appears to be an internal Kenyan incident, that is, a terrorist attack but not one that specifically targeted Israelis," an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.
One eyewitness who identified himself as Taha said he had heard the screech of brakes followed moments later by an explosion, and then sustained gunfire from the ground floor.
Satpal Singh, 36, who was in a cafe on the mall's top floor, said he ran downstairs when he heard the gunfire and was shot at near the mall's main exit.
"A Somali guy shot at me. The guy who shot me was carrying a rifle, an AK-47."
Some shoppers ran up stairs and escalators and hid around the mall's cinema complex. Police found another terrified group hiding in a toilet on the first floor.
Some wounded were wheeled out on stretchers and shopping trolleys. Other walked out, some with bloodied clothing wrapped around wounds. Dozens of wounded were ferried away by ambulance.
Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in central Nairobi's Westlands neighbourhood.
"I personally touched the eyes of four people and they were dead. One of them was a child," said one former British soldier at the scene. "It's carnage up there."