Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Nairobi: At least two Indians were among those killed in the deadly terror attack on Westgate shopping centre in Kenya’s Nairobi, where unknown number of hostages are still held captive by the militants, reports said Sunday.
As Kenyan security forces struggled to rescue the trapped hostages and track militants, the death toll increased to 59 today, Kenya`s Interior Minister said.
Those killed are 40-year old engineer from Chennai named Sridhar Natarajan and Parmanshu Jain - an eight year old boy who was the son of the country manager of Bank of Baroda.
Five other Indians were reportedly injured in the attack.
The reports said that the Indian embassy officials were in contact with the family of the victims.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted the names of those injured: "Smt Manjula Sridhar; Smt. Mukta Jain; Kumari Poorvi Jain; Shri Natarajan Ramachandran #westgate".
Two French women and two Canadian were also among those killed.
According to the US State Department, American citizens were also injured in the “senseless act of violence", and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there would "undoubtedly" be British nationals too, at the receiving end of the horrific attack, the BBC reported.
Condemning the attack in a national address, President Kenyatta vowed to punish the perpetrators of the attack which targeted Westgate mall which is popular with expats.
Kenyatta said he had "personally lost family members in the Westgate attack".
"They have killed at least 39 innocent people and injured more than 150 others. With the entire nation, I stand with the families of those who have lost their lives and extend every Kenyan`s deepest condolences," he said.
"We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get to them and we shall punish them for this heinous crime…” he said.
Early Sunday morning, 12 hours after the attack began, gunmen remained holed up inside the mall with an unknown number of hostages. President Uhuru Kenyatta called the security operation under way "delicate" and said a top priority was to safeguard hostages.
Witnesses said at least five gunmen — including at least one woman — first attacked an outdoor cafe at Nairobi`s Westgate Mall, a shiny, new shopping center that includes Nike, Adidas and Bose stores. The mall`s ownership is Israeli, and security experts have long said the structure made an attractive terrorist target.
The responsibility for the attack has been claimed by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabab militants who claimed that 100 people have been killed inside the mall.
“The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders,” al-Shabab said on Twitter.
In another tweet the militants said: “For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it’s time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land #Westgate.”
According to the militant group al Shabab, the attack was in retaliation to the support given by Kenya military to UN mission in Somalia.
Kenya`s troops are assisting the African Union troops in Somalia which target al Shabab militants.