The standoff at a Kenyan mall appears to be coming to a violent conclusion after blasts rocked a shopping center outside Nirobi where terrorists had killed 62 people and taken others hostage.
The incident started on Saturday when heavily armed gunmen stormed into the upscale suburban mall and opened fire. Though the death count was originally listed as 68, the Kenyan interior minister revised the report to say that 62 were dead. The death toll includes people from Canada, China, and the UK as the mall is popular with wealthy Kenyans and foreigners.
By Sunday security forces had pushed the group of 10 to 12 terrorists back where they still held a small group of hostages. On Monday the mall was rocked by four loud explosions, which sent plumes of black smoke upward from the mall.
Kenyan officials said the operation to free hostages “has gone very, very well” and that there are few if any hostages remaining in the building. They also noted that two of the terrorists had been killed.
Kenya Chief of Defense forces Gen. Julius Karangi said the terrorists who attacked the mall claim to be from the Somali group al-Shabab but actually come from al-Qaeda fighters from across the region.
“We have an idea who these people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world,” he said.
Al-Shabab had promised retribution for Kenyan actions in Somalia starting in 2011. The al-Qaeda linked group has been blamed for destabilizing Somalia, and the rest of the region by extension.
Witnesses say they saw militants carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades into the mall, and the Telegraph noted that some of the arms may have come from Libya.
‘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.”
On its Twitter feed, al-Shabab said Kenya was to blame for the mall attack and that fighters remained heavily armed and prepared to fight.