At least 59 people have died and 175 people have been injured after suspected members of an Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group attacked an upscale shopping mall in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Saturday.
Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of the Interior Joseph Ole Lenku, announced the updated figures in a press briefing shortly after noon local time Sunday. Lenku said that the government believed that between 10 and 15 gunmen were still inside the Westgate shopping mall and described the situation as “delicate.”
When asked if hostages were still inside the building, Lenku initially would not say, but later, when answering another question, said that the government was doing everything it could to make sure the “hostages” got out safely. Lenku also would not confirm that the attackers were members of the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab, saying only that authorities were investigating the gunmen’s identity.
Meanwhile, Kenyan police and special forces were going floor by floor to secure the complex. At around 9:30 a.m. local time Sunday, Associated Press journalists at the scene reported hearing a barrage of gunfire. Moments later, two wounded members of Kenya’s security forces were carried out of the building.
“Violent extremists continue to occupy Westgate Mall. Security services are there in full force,” said the United States embassy in an emergency text message issued Sunday morning.
Daylight had brought some good news, as Kenyan media reported that several people in hiding in the mall escaped to safety, suggesting that not everyone who is still inside is being held by members of al-Shabab.