September 25, 2013

Al-Shabab: Military's 'demolition' of mall buried 137 hostages

A government spokesman says the collapse of floors in the mall was caused by a fire set by the terrorists and that the official civilian death toll remains 61.

By David Rising and Rodney Muhumuza / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Fears persisted that some of the attackers could still be alive and loose inside the rubble of the mall, a vast complex that had shops for retailers like Bose, Nike and Adidas, as well as banks, restaurants and a casino.

A high-ranking security official involved in the investigations said it would take time to search the whole mall before declaring that the terrorist threat had been crushed. That official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss information not publicly disclosed.

Eleven other suspects have been taken into custody, and Esipisu said: "At this at this point the interrogations are ongoing and I can't reveal any of the details."

Al-Shabab, whose name means "The Youth" in Arabic, first began threatening Kenya with a major terror attack in late 2011, after Kenya sent troops into Somalia following a spate of kidnappings of Westerners inside Kenya.

The al-Shabab extremists stormed the mall on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing on civilians.

The group used Twitter to say that Somalis have been suffering at the hands of Kenyan military operations in Kenya, and the mall attack was revenge.

"You could have avoided all this and lived your lives with relative safety," the group Tweeted Tuesday. "Remove your forces from our country and peace will come."

The militants specifically targeted non-Muslims, and at least 18 foreigners were among the dead, including six Britons, as well as citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China. Five Americans were among the wounded.

The mall attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaida truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.

Security officials in Nairobi always knew that Westgate, which was popular with foreign residents of the capital as well as tourists and wealthy Kenyans, was a likely target for terror attacks.

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