Kenya Forces Comb Westgate Site
Nairobi – Security forces are combing the Nairobi shopping centre attacked by suspected al-Shabab militants, as they seek for a fourth day to secure the site. An explosion and gunfire were heard at the Westgate complex on Tuesday morning, but later a senior police source said the operation was “over”. At least 65 people have been killed, including three soldiers.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s foreign minister said “two or three” Americans and a British woman were among the attackers. In an interview with the US TV programme PBS Newshour, Amina Mohamed said the Americans were 18 or 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin, and lived “in Minnesota and one other place”. She said the Briton was a woman who had “done this many times before”.
Ms Mohamed appeared to contradict earlier comments from Kenya’s interior minister, who suggested that all the attackers were men – though some may have been dressed as women. The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Nairobi says Ms Mohamed’s remarks have fuelled media speculation about the possible involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite, the widow of one of the men who carried out attacks on London’s transport system on 7 July 2005.
The Somali Islamist al-Shabab movement said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia. British officials said they would not be drawn on the identity of the attackers while investigations continued.
One senior police source told the BBC the stand-off had ended, but there was no official announcement. Earlier, a Kenyan officer at the scene said he believed there could be two or three attackers left inside the building. The interior ministry said security officials were in “mop-up operations” and that “we’re very near the end”, while the police said they were cleaning up explosives that had been planted in the area. (BBC)