Dramatic video below
Sept. 21, 2013
Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — Armed gunmen faced off with Kenyan police and soldiers inside an upscale Nairobi shopping mall early Sunday, hours after brazenly gunning down shoppers, diners and more.
Around 2:30 a.m. Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET Saturday) — an hour after reporting five “visibly shaken” hostages had been released — Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre cryptically tweeted “major operations underway.” What that meant was a mystery, and it didn’t quell fears about what has happened or might happen to an unknown number of civilians who were still unaccounted for inside.
The same agency offered an update about three hours later stating that hostages were being held “in several locations,” adding there was “no communications as yet.” By then, government authorities had secured the mall’s upper levels, though it was not known where the attackers — and the threat — remained.
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Hours earlier, Kenya’s president announced that 39 people, including some of his close relatives, were confirmed dead in the attack. Two gunmen, including one who was detained after being shot, are also dead.
Francis Kimenia, secretary to the Cabinet, tweeted another 293 people got treatment at three area hospitals, which “are appealing for more blood.” The wounded range in age from 2 to 78, the disaster operations center said, urging people to “remember them in your prayers.”
Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked militant group based in Somalia with ties to Nairobi’s Eastleigh district and whose most recent attack of this scale came July 2010 in Uganda’s capital, claimed responsibility for the carnage and vowed not to negotiate with Kenyan authorities. It claimed that “all Muslims” were escorted from the mall before the attack, suggesting its targets were people who didn’t believe in their extreme form of Islam. Read more…