KENYA said last night its security forces were in control of most of the Nairobi shopping mall where at least 68 people were killed by Somali al Shabaab Islamists, but gunmen still appeared to be holding hostages as the siege entered its third day.
Referring to an operation under way since early yesterday, following the storming of the upmarket Westgate mall at lunchtime on Saturday, a military spokesman said most of those who had been in the complex were now free.
“Most of the hostages have been released, and the Kenya Defence Forces has taken control of most parts of the building,” Colonel Cyrus Oguna told local station KTN, giving no details.
The terror attack over the weekend has left at least 68 dead, including three Britons.
Grenades and assault rifles were used against shoppers as the group called for Kenya to withdraw its troops from neighbouring Somali, where Kenyan forces have battled the al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents.
Somalia has been ravaged by civil war and insurgency for several years, and parts of the conflict, as well as kidnappings, spilled over into Kenya.
As a result the country’s forces entered Somalia in late 2011 to push back al Shabaab militants.
Al Shabaab’s last big attack outside Somalia was a twin assault in nearby Uganda, targeting people watching the World Cup final on television in Kampala in 2010, killing 77 people. The assault is the biggest single attack in Kenya since al Qaeda’s East Africa cell bombed the US Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing more than 200 people.