Nairobi Westgate shoot-out: 39 dead, several injured. Somali Militants claim responsibility

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By Oladunjoye Opeyemi & Busolami Idowu

‎Few days after Somali militants threatened to strike the Westgate centre in Nairobi,Kenya, gunmen have attacked killing at least 39 people, according to the Kenyan Red Cross and Government officials . Dozens of shoppers have fled and many are still feared trapped inside in what appears to be an hostage.

Police Chief Benson Kibue who had initially said it was an attempted robbery have been making frantic effort at securing area in an attempt to evacuate remaining shoppers and say that gunmen had taken at least seven people hostage while Dozens of people are reported to have been injured. Meanwhile, officials said “Hostage numbers still unknown, but they are in several locations. No communication as yet.”

Al-shabab a Somali militant group have claimed responsibility for the attack that appears to be a siege. Report from Government officials and the Red Cross International indicates that Al-shabab have refused to negotiate more that 15 hours the attack started.

E yewitnesses say the attack began when masked attackers threw grenades into the building at about midday local time (09:00 GMT).At about 15:30 GMT, more than six hours after the attack began, the Kenyan Secretary for the Interior Joseph Ole Lenku has said the security situation was “under control” and that the public should not speculate about the nature of the attack as most people had been evacuated.

“Nobody, including myself, is willing to call this a terrorist attack at this point” according to John Allan Namu, a social commentor said. Another Kenyan Citizen who escaped said,”I could hear the gunfire moving towards the main entrance of the shopping mall, so some people ran out of our cafe in a kind of panic, and quite a number just fell down as flat as possible on the ground.” Another Nairobi resident, Anupa, who lives near the scene, told the BBC: “I heard the exchange of fire when it happened, and I heard what I thought was a grenade, but I didn’t go outside. The whole area is cordoned off.”

An Armed police who took cover behind vehicles outside said,”We have officers at the scene trying to get out the group shooting inside. Officers are approaching the situation with caution because there are innocent civilians inside.”

The Westgate centre is often frequented by wealthy Kenyans and expatriates. Police have urged residents to stay away from the area and told media outlets to stop live transmissions from the scene,as the information may be aiding the attackers.

A number of foreign nationals has been reportedly killed during the siege. Two Canadians, including a diplomat, a Ghana diplomat and Two French citizens are reported among the dead in the attack.

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