Chinese woman among dead in Kenya

Updated: 2013-09-23 00:56

By Liu Zhen and agencies in Nairobi (China Daily)

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Other than subduing the attackers and saving the hostages, the immediate challenge for the president is to calm a panicked country.

"We have overcome terrorist attacks before. In fact, we have fought courageously and defeated them within and outside our borders. We will defeat them again. Terrorism in and of itself, is the philosophy of cowards," Kenyatta said on Saturday night.

Lucy Miruka, director of Eventful Kenya, an event organizer, told China Daily that all Kenyans were shocked and scared by the attack. "The terrible thing for people is that you may be involved in the violence anywhere at any time, when you just go shopping or sit in a restaurant, drinking coffee or tea," Miruka said.

"No one knows where it's safe. Kenyans need to be strong to overcome this horrible attack," she said.

Relatives of hostages still trapped in the mall kept vigil overnight at a nearby religious community center.

"I want her to come out alive," said Kevin Jamal, as he joined Kenya Red Cross Society volunteers and waited for news about his sister, who he said was being held inside.

The dead included children, and the wounded ranged in age from 2 to 78. Many victims were at a cooking competition when assailants opened fire on them, witnesses said.

Gunfire erupted on Sunday at the shopping mall.

The shooting, lasting about 30 seconds, came after a period of tense quiet in the standoff, a Reuters witness said, speaking from close to the shopping center that has several Israeli-owned outlets and which is frequented by Westerners and Kenyans.

Soldiers joined the security operation backed by armored personnel carriers in the hours after the attack was launched. Security forces have been combing through the mall, clearing the floors.

As helicopters hovered over the capital, a paramilitary officer at the scene, a rifle slung over his shoulder, said they will be arranging how to attack the assailants.

Israeli advisers are helping Kenya formulate a strategy to end the siege, an Israeli security source said.

One woman emerged on Sunday morning after she had been hiding under a car in the basement. She was holding one shoe and looked dazed, and was making a frantic phone call to her husband who later met her.

Al-Shabaab, which is battling Kenyan and other African peacekeepers in Somalia, had repeatedly threatened attacks in Kenya if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of the country.

Reuters, AP and AFP contributed to this story.


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