Kenya terror attack: As it happened

An official has told The Associated Press that Nairobi`s city morgue is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies of people killed in the Westgate mall terrorist attack.

By Deepak Nagpal | Updated: Sep 25, 2013, 00:08 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal and Kamna Arora

10:00 pm: Kenya`s President addresses nation

Kenya`s President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses nation, announces mall siege is over. Saying that the Kenyan forces have ashamed and defeated the attackers, the President underlined that losses were immense.

"Fellow Kenyans, we have been badly hurt and feel great pain and loss, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down great evil and triumphed."

The President said that three floors of the Westgate shopping centre had collapsed during the "tail end" of the operation.

Five "terrorists" had been killed and 11 were in custody. He said there had been intelligence reports that there were three Americans and one Briton among the attackers but it was not possible to confirm this at the moment.

Putting the death toll at 62, Kenyatta also declared three days of national mourning, beginning Wednesday, in response to the attacks.

Besides civilians, six security officers have been confirmed dead. But more bodies remain trapped in the mall, he added.

9:50 pm: Nigerian President vows crackdown on extremists

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vows to pursue crackdown on Islamist extremists. "The reign of terror anywhere in the world is an assault on our collective humanity," Jonathan tells the UN General Assembly, condemning the "dastardly terrorist attack" on the Westgate mall.

9:30 pm: Kenyan troops confirming all attackers eliminated

The Kenyan troops continue to comb the mall, going shop-to-shop to ensure they have eliminated all the Islamist attackers, reports AFP. "A clearing operation is in progress," a diplomatic source says outside the mall, while a Kenyan security source adds: "They are searching shop by shop to make sure there is nobody left." "We can`t say it`s over until we are sure that no one is left and nobody is being attacked," the AFP has quoted a security source as saying.

9:00 pm: Kenya attack indicates the dangers that remain, says Obama

US President Barack Obama has told the United Nations General Assembly that a splintered al Qaeda represents "serious threats to governments, diplomats, businesses and civilians across the globe". According to Associated Press, Obama said the world was safer than five years ago, but the shopping mall attack in Kenya "indicates the dangers that remain``.

8:55 pm: Al Shabaab says no desire to kill women

The latest Twitter account set up by al Shabaab militants says: "Mujahideen (fighters) have no desire to kill women & children and have done everything practically possible to evacuate them before attacking Westgate."

8:45 pm: `Don`t let enemy control your movements`

The Kenyan police Twitter account says: "We would like to urge all Kenyans that security has been beefed up across Nairobi & the country. Do not let the enemy control your movements."

8:00 pm: Kenya President to address nation

Reports say that Kenya`s President Uhuru Kenyatta will address the nation in an hour`s time.

7:50 pm: Militants rented shop in mall to prepare for attack

A report says the militants rented a shop in the mall in order to prepare for their deadly attack. The Financial Times cites a senior adviser to the Kenyan government (not named) as saying: "They rented a shop and have slowly been smuggling in equipment; how do you explain them being able to hold fire from Saturday, Sunday, Monday -- to sustain for all those hours. There was a timetable to be smuggling those things in there."

7:35 pm: Kenya mall attackers `must be held accountable`, says Somali PM

Speaking from a UN human rights meeting in Geneva, Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid said that "those responsible must be held accountable." "This tragedy has brought our countries closer."

Also Read: Somali PM calls for aid to combat al Shabaab

6:30 pm: AU vows to press on with its fight against al Shabaab

The African Union vows to press on with its fight against al Shebaab in Somalia. Erastus Mwencha, the deputy head of the AU`s executive branch, tells AFP: "Our resolve is to fight now more than ever before."

He says the bloody siege underscores the difficulty of fighting Shabaab rebels, whose threat extends beyond the borders of Somalia.

6:23 pm: Al Shabaab warns of more attacks

Al Shabaab fighters warn of more attacks to follow the ongoing siege in Nairobi mall if the Kenyan troops do not pull out of Somalia immediately, says Al Jazeera. Speaking in Arabic in an audio broadcast released by the extremists, al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said: "If not, know that this is just a taste of what we will do... you should expect black days...We will make them suffer what we suffer in southern Somalia, we are giving a warning to the Kenyan government and to all those who support it."

Also Read: Al Qaeda-linked Shabaab threaten new attacks if Kenya does not leave Somalia
6:10 pm: Helpline numbers

Kenya Police tweet phone numbers to help those seeking information about their families.

5:50 pm: Kenya`s VP visits attack victims

Kenya`s Vice President William Ruto says he visited victims of the terror attack at hospitals. He says it was with "great shock and sadness" that he heard of the attack while in The Hague where he is defending claims against him of crime against humanity.

"We have been assaulted by hateful, unthinking cowards whose depravity motivates them to seek gratification in killing and maiming innocent, harmless people," he says in a statement.

"Their moral deformity is monstrous and appalling."

He also pays tribute to the police and armed forces for their "painful sacrifices", following the deaths of three soldiers earlier.

5:30 pm: `No leaks intercepted ahead of attack`

AFP cites intelligence sources from two foreign countries as saying that there were no leaks or "chatter" intercepted from Somalia`s al Shabaab rebels ahead of the mall attack. The sources, who cannot be identified, said Shabaab`s operations are closely monitored but there was no indication the group was preparing an operation on this scale.

"Usually there are intercepts or chatter, but not this time," said one of the sources. "It suggests they`ve done things differently, or that it was another cell" not necessarily part of Shabaab.

The news agency added that a second intelligence source says the Shabaab had long been expected to attack a high-profile target in Kenya because of the country`s military intervention in Somalia.

5:05 pm: Part of Nairobi mall roof collapses

A part of Nairobi mall roof collapses in ongoing siege, says fireman. The roof was thought to have been weakened during yesterday`s fire.

5:05 pm: Boy, 4, stands up to terrorist

One of the Islamist attackers besieging a Nairobi shopping mall handed chocolate to a four-year-old British boy caught up in the crisis and asked for forgiveness, his uncle told a newspaper today.

Four-year-old Elliott Prior, who had been shopping with his mother and sister at the Westgate mall when it came under attack on Saturday, confronted one of the militants, telling him "you`re a very bad man", his uncle told The Sun.

Alex Coutts said the attacker took pity on the family and allowed them to escape, handing the children Mars bars as he told them: "Please forgive me, we are not monsters."

4:50 pm: Kenya`s Supreme Council of Muslims condemns attack

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Adan Wachu condemned the attack in the "strongest terms". According to the Missionary International Service News Agency, Wachu said the attack went against Islamic teachings and vowed that the attackers would not divide Christians and Muslims.

4:45 pm: Three soldiers killed

Kenya`s Interior Ministry says three soldiers have been killed in the Westgate operation. Eight more are being treated in hospital.

4:20 pm: Bill Clinton pays tribute to Elif Yavuz

Former US president Bill Clinton and his family paid tribute to Elif Yavuz, the Harvard-educated woman, who was killed in the Nairobi terrorist attack. Yavuz used to work for the family`s Clinton Foundation and was expecting a baby in just two weeks` time.

4:05 pm: UN envoy for Somalia urges military support

The United Nations envoy for Somalia called for more military support for African troops to counter al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group which has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to Reuters, Nicholas Kay, the UN special representative for Somalia, condemned the attack and said that there was a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to help bring peace to Somalia.

4:00 pm: Death toll could rise further

An official has told The Associated Press that Nairobi`s city morgue is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies of people killed in the Westgate mall terrorist attack.

The government official says morgue employees were told to prepare for many bodies. Morgue employees were dressed in smocks early Tuesday, though no bodies had been delivered. The official death toll from the mall attack stood at 62. Most of those bodies were already taken to the morgue, either directly or from hospitals.

A city resident whose brother is taking part in the military operation inside the mall told AP that there were many dead bodies still in the mall.

3:35 pm: White Widow entered Kenya with South African passport?

South African home affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa tells AFP that officials there are trying to find out if a forged South African passport has been found "on the body" of one of the militants killed in the siege. British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite is understood to have entered Kenya with a South African passport - believed to be forged - under the name Natalie Faye Webb.

3:30 pm: Third Indian victim identified

The third Indian who died in the Nairobi Westgate mall attack has been identified as Sudharshan B Nagaraj. He hails from Bangalore.

MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin confirmed the death and said on Twitter: "Sudharshan B.Nagaraj who sadly died in #Westgate attack was in book trade & had come to Nairobi only on 20 Sept."

Also Read: Death toll of Indians killed in Kenya attack rises to 3

3:00 pm: `Possible that London bomber`s widow involved in Nairobi attack`

A British security source said on Tuesday it was a possibility that the widow of a suicide bomber who attacked London in 2005 was involved in the siege of a Nairobi shopping mall where Islamist fighters killed at least 62 people.

When asked about reports that Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the "white widow" by the British media, was directly involved in the attack in Kenya, the source said: "It is a possibility. But nothing definitive or conclusive yet."

Lewthwaite is the widow of Germaine Lindsay, one of the suicide bombers who killed more than 50 people on London`s transport system in 2005. She is thought to have left Britain several years ago.
2:30 pm: Al Shabaab claims more hostages

The militant group that attacked a Nairobi mall and killed at least 60 people says it is still holding hostages alive inside and that its fighters are "still holding their ground".

The Twitter messages posted on Tuesday by the al Qaeda-linked rebel group al-Shabaab came after Kenyan government assurances of success in the fourth-day of the standoff.

Al Shabaab says the hostages "are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive".

Also Read: Al Shabaab planned to develop chemical weapons

2:25 pm: UK silent on `British woman` among attackers

London refused to be drawn Tuesday on comments by Kenya`s foreign minister that a British woman was among the militants behind the deadly Nairobi shopping mall attack.

But the Foreign Office did say that Britain would do all it could to assist in bringing those responsible to justice.

2:20 pm: `No American, British attackers in Kenya`

Al Shabaab on Tuesday dismissed comments by a Kenyan minister that Americans and a Briton were among the militants who attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, and also said it had been in touch with the attackers.

"We have communicated with our mujahideen (fighters) in Westgate (mall) and they told us fighting has just started," al Shabaab`s media office told Reuters. "Those who describe the attackers as Americans and British are people who do not know what is going on in Westgate building."

2:15 pm: Arrests and detentions

The BBC reports that Kenyan security personnel have detained two suspects at the airport and while there are reports of arrest of 10 gunmen in connection with the mall attack.

2:10 pm: ICC condemns attack

The International Criminal Court prosecutor says she is prepared to work with Kenya to bring to justice those responsible for the deadly attack on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Tuesday that while Kenya has primary jurisdiction in the slaying of civilians in the Westgate Mall, the atrocity could also fall under the court`s jurisdiction.

2:00 pm: Kenya mall attack to aid `militant recruitment` from West?

Some terror experts have said that the Kenyan shopping mall massacre is going to be "great shot in the propaganda arm" to the al Qaeda-linked group`s efforts to recruit fighters from the West, including the United States.

Analysts said the number of recruits from Somali communities in the US and Europe could grow following the Nairobi mall attack, Fox News reports.

The analysis confirms that al-Shabab has not been able to successfully attack sites in Somalia, so it shifted its method by attacking a soft target to send a clear message to would-be jihadists.

Besides Minnesota, which is home to the largest Somali population in the US, Iowa and Arizona also has become domestic breeding ground for potential extremists.

1:30 pm: Indians` toll rises

The death toll of Indians killed in Westgate mall terror attack in Kenya`s capital Nairobi has risen to three, reports PTI.

1:15 pm: `Each and every room being searched`

Kenyan authorities said they are in control of the Westgate mall that was attacked at the weekend, but security forces were searching each and every room for Somali-linked Islamists believed to include Americans and a British woman. The assault launched on Saturday afternoon killed 62 people.

A burst of gunfire in the early morning broke hours of calm on the fourth day since militants of the al Qaeda-aligned al Shabaab group stormed into the Westgate center during a busy Saturday lunchtime, spraying bullets and tossing grenades.

Helicopters buzzed over the complex that is popular with foreigners and prosperous Kenyans, which al Shabaab said its militants had attacked to demand Kenya withdraw troops from Somalia where they have battled the Islamist group.

"There are still gunmen in the building," said an intelligence officer, who asked not to be named, speaking in the morning near the mall which is surrounded by troops. Asked if there were still hostages, he said: "We are not sure yet."

"We are still in there and going through every room," said one Kenyan soldier.

An unsourced television report on Tuesday said "six of the remaining attackers" were killed. There has been no clear official tally.

12:15 pm: Six more mall attackers killed, claims report

Kenya`s Citizen TV reported on Tuesday that troops had killed "six of the remaining attackers" at a Nairobi shopping mall, but did not give further details and the report was unsourced.

"Security forces killed six of the remaining attackers," the channel said in a brief headline. Officials earlier said three of the 10 to 15 people who stormed the building on Saturday had been killed.

The government said it was in control of the mall, although there was another burst of gunfire at 9.30 am and two security personnel at the scene said security forces were still searching the mall.

11:15 am: Troops fighting `one or two` gunmen

Kenyan special forces are still battling "one or two" Islamist militants holed up inside Nairobi`s Westgate shopping mall, security sources involved in the operation told AFP at the scene on Tuesday.

The sources said the militants were located and isolated in or around a casino located on one of the upper floors of the complex.

Sporadic gunfire and the sound of blasts could be heard coming from inside the mall at dawn, witnesses said.

The security sources also confirmed that a number hostages had been rescued and evacuated to a military hospital.

10:30 am: `Americans, Briton among Kenya mall attackers`

Two or three young American men and a British woman were among the group of attackers who stormed a Nairobi mall killing more than 60 people, Kenya`s top diplomat has said.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, interviewed by US public broadcaster PBS, was asked about reports Americans and Britons were among those to blame for the carnage.

Also Read: `Americans, Briton among Kenya mall attackers`

"Yes," Mohamed said. "From the information that we have, two or three Americans, and I think so far I have heard of one Brit." The Briton was a woman, Mohamed said.

"Woman. Woman. And she has, I think, done this many times before," she told PBS.

10:15 am: Snipers still inside the mall?

While Nairobi Police have said on Twitter that they were in control of the situation, two top Kenyan officials have told CNN that gunmen, including snipers, could still be inside the four-story mall.

10:00 am: Heavy burst of gunfire heard from Kenyan mall

A heavy burst of gunfire was heard from the Kenyan shopping mall in Nairobi where at least 62 people were killed in an attack by the Somali al Shabaab group, suggesting that the complex had not yet been secured, a witness said on Tuesday.

Kenya`s Interior Ministry had said early on Tuesday that its forces were "in control" of the mall and had freed all hostages.

7:00 am: Kenya says forces take over mall

Kenyan officials said early on Tuesday that their forces were "in control" of a mall in the capital where Somalia`s Islamist al Shabaab launched a raid that has killed at least 62 people.

Also Read: Horror, heroism during one of Kenya`s darkest days

"Our forces are combing the mall floor by floor looking for anyone left behind. We believe all hostages have been released," the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government in The Office of the President said on its Twitter handle.

3:30 am: Militants hold out

Islamist fighters from Somalia`s al Shabaab held out at a Nairobi shopping centre after killing at least 62 people, surrounded by Kenyan forces trying to crush their group`s cross-border jihad.

It remained unclear how many fighters and hostages were still cornered in Nairobi`s Westgate shopping centre on Tuesday, after a series of blasts and gunfire were followed by black smoke billowing from one part of the complex on Monday.

However, the Interior Ministry said on Twitter it was "in control" of the mall and believed all hostages had been freed.

3:00 am: Obama says Kenyan mall attack a `terrible outrage`

President Barack Obama said the United States stands with Kenya against the "terrible outrage" of a shopping mall terrorist attack.

Obama said the United States is providing law enforcement assistance and all the help it can to deal with the tragedy.

Obama had called Kenya`s president over the weekend to offer condolences and support.

The President added the attack shows the international community must stand against the "senseless violence" he said groups like al-Shabab represent.

2:00 am: US examines information about foreigners in mall attack

US authorities are urgently looking into information given by the Kenyan government that foreigners were among armed militants who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall over the weekend, killing at least 62 people, US security sources said.

Kenyan security forces are still continuing an operation to secure the Westgate Mall and free any remaining hostages, meaning conclusive evidence proving the involvement of foreigners is not yet available.

However, a national security source said that the United States had been notified through official channels that Kenyan authorities now believed that foreigners, likely including US citizens or residents, were among the gunmen who attacked the mall.