The Kenya mall standoff continued into Sunday as security forces battled Islamic extremist group al-Shabab at an upscale shopping center in Nirobi.
The group leveled an attack on a suburban mall, leaving 59 people dead including several children. There were also 175 wounded, with close to 50 still missing.
Police continue to clash on Sunday with the roughly 10 to 15 militants that were holding hostages inside the mall.
“There are quite a number of people still being held hostage on the third floor and the basement area where the terrorists are still in charge,” said former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Security forces have moved carefully, boxing in the remaining militants.
“The priority is to save as many lives as possible,” said Joseph Lenku of the Kenyan Red Cross.
The Kenyan mall was a strategic target for al-Shabab. The upscale mall is located in a wealthy neighborhood and is frequented by many foreigners and wealthy Kenyans. The list of confirmed dead included Kenyans and foreigners, including French, Canadians, and Chinese. After word that a 38-year-old Chinese woman was killed, the Chinese Embassy released a statement calling it a “terror attack.”
Witnesses saw the militants carrying heavy weaponry including a rocket-propelled grenade. Reports say al-Shabab may have obtained weapons from the fallout in Libya.
The Telegraph noted:
‘Libyan arms that went missing during the fighting to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi are now spreading ever further afield, being used in conflicts as far apart as Niger, Somalia, Gaza and Syria, a UN report says.”
Al-Shabab operates out of Somalia and said the Kenya mall attack is retribution for that nation’s 2011 operation in Somalia.
A New York Times photographer was nearby when the Kenya mall attack started, and the Times has published a series of stark and sometimes graphic images of the ongoing attack.
Live updates of the Kenya mall standoff with Al-Shabab are being offered by the UK’s Guardian and the Kenya National Disaster Operation has tweeted updates. Live video of the security operation is available through the BBC.