The Kenya mall attack ended on Tuesday with the capture of 11 suspects and the partial collapse of the Nairobi shopping center.
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, announced the end of the attack, which turned into a three-day siege that killed at least 61 civilians, six security officers, and five suspected terrorists, reports NBC News.
The siege began on Sunday as gunmen stormed the high-end shopping mall, which is a popular destination for tourists and dignitaries. Reports by witnesses suggested the gunmen ordered all Muslims to leave the mall before they began firing on everyone they saw.
Those killed in the attack include men, women, and several children. After the initial assault, the attackers barricaded themselves in a portion of the building and announced they had hostages. The group also refused to negotiate with Kenyan officials.
As crews searched through the rubble for survivors, Kenyatta announced a three-day mourning period beginning on Wednesday.
Kenyatta’s announcement that the attack was over came after several hours of uncertainty. While security forces claimed they gained ground on the al-Shabaab militants, the group claimed in a Twitter post that they were “still holding their ground” inside the mall.
Kenyatta also stated that three floors of the complex collapsed and bodies were seen in the rubble. Kenya’s foreign minister also stated that American and British citizens of Somali or Arab origin may be among the attackers. The Inquisitr also reported that Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as the “White Widow” terrorist, ay have been involved.
At this point, the exact death toll is unclear. Reuters notes that, while the government confirmed the deaths of 61 civilians, there are an unknown number of bodies trapped in the rubble of the collapsed structure.
While the White Widow was rumored to be involved in the Kenya mall attack, al-Shabaab stated no women were involved in the attack. The Somali militant group blamed Kenya’s involvement in Somalia for the attack, which some believe was planned to cause the most international damage.
As Kenya began its mourning for the victims of the Westgate mall attack, the massive structure lay mostly silent for the first time in days.