KENYA SECURITY FORCES REIN OVER MALL SIEGE
By: Gift Nyamapfene
Kenyan officials said that national security agents had taken control of the Westgate Mall that had been held up since Saturday by alleged terrorists who killed at least 62 people and injured 175.
“We are in charge of the #WestGate situation and more updates will be coming your way,” said Kenya’s police services on its official twitter handle “@PoliceKE”.
Kenyan Police Inspector General, David Kimaiyo, added on twitter, “Taken control of all the floors. We’re not here to feed the attackers with pastries but to finish and punish them.”
The police also said that at least 10 suspects have been apprehended for the attack that began during the weekend. The Somali Al-Shabaab movement has since claimed responsibility for the attack.
Al-Shabaab is an extremist Islamic terrorist wing of Al-Qaeda based in Somalia. The group said that the attack, targeting non-Muslims, was in retribution of the Kenyan forces’ 2011 push into the neighbouring Somalia’s borders.
Al- Shabaab said in one of its twitter feeds, “We’ll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt [government] as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest.”
A South African man, James Thomas (57) from Cape Town was among the victims confirmed dead according to the International Relations and Co-operation Department. Thomas was in Nairobi for business. Other foreign victims were from France, UK, China, India, Ghana and Canada.
The Kenyan authorities had pledged to end the hostage crisis by Sunday night. On Monday they acknowledged that their resolution was taking longer than expected but said the crisis would soon be over.
Kenyan Interior cabinet secretary, Joseph Lenku said, “We are in charge of the situation, our people are safe, and hostages have been evacuated.”
Lenku said that 10 Kenyan soldiers has suffered injuries during the assault that ended the siege, and that he was “not aware” if any had been killed.
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who lost his nephew and the nephew’s fiancé in the Westgate attack said that the government would stand firm in punishing the perpetrators of the terror attack.
“We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for their heinous crime. I have directed security agencies to be decisive in their response to this or any other threat,” said Kenyatta.
The standoff is the worst in Kenya since an Al-Qaeda bombing at the US Embassy where more than 200 people were killed in 1998.