September 24, 2013
Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group said on Tuesday its militants were still holed up in a Kenyan shopping mall they attacked at the weekend and there were “countless dead bodies”, raising fears the death toll could be higher than 62.
Kenyan security forces were searching for the al Qaeda-linked attackers who are believed by Western sources to include Americans and possibly a British woman who may be the widow of a suicide bomber who took part in a big attack in London in 2005. Al Shabaab rejected suggestions that foreigners were involved.
Sporadic bursts of gunfire and an explosion marked the fourth day since the militants stormed into Nairobi’s upmarket Westgate center during a busy Saturday lunchtime, spraying bullets and lobbing grenades.
A paramedic, Sakina Stellah, who was inside the mall, told Reuters that bodies were still lying around as troops went from room to room, at times using blasting caps to open locked doors and occasionally firing as a precaution before moving in. “They are just trying to make sure the area is safe first,” she said.