Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Nairobi: As Kenyan Army sought to step up the offensive against the militants holed up in the Westgate mall, the al Shabab has issued a threat saying that the mall hostage would be killed if force was used against the “mujahedeen”.
In a statement issued on an Islamic website, al Shabab spokesperson Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said, "We authorise the mujahedeen inside the building to take actions against the prisoners as much as they are pressed".
"We are telling Christians advancing onto the mujahedeen to have mercy for their prisoners who will bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahedeen," he added.
The mall hostage crisis has entered third day with at least 68 people being killed. The Kenya Army earlier said that they had rescued “most of the hostages” but later a military spokesperson was quoted as saying that fate of the hostages was not clear yet.
Fresh gunfire was reported from the mall this morning as more Kenyan troops reportedly entered the mall.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabab claim that the attack has been carried out in retaliation to the support given by Kenyan troops to the UN mission in Somalia.
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.”
The attack seems to be the worst terrorist attack in Nairobi since al Qaeda attacked the US embassy in 1998, killing more than 200.