Kenyan Red Cross reports more than 30 people killed, at least 60 people injured by 18-20 Arabic-speaking gunmen who stormed the upscale Westgate center shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Saturday, Sept. 21. Riding in on motorcycles, they sprayed the crowds with gunfire and grenades. Kenyan police forces engaged the attackers, who carried large quantities of ammo, in fierce battle.
As terrified people rushed out, many holding children, the gunmen seized at least seven hostages and barricaded themselves inside the building. Heavy military and police forces are surrounding the mall, attempting to negotiate the hostages’ release.
Kenyan sources report an unknown number of Israelis were in the mall which is Israeli-owned, including staff and shoppers. There is no word yet on their situation.
Witnesses who escaped reported that the terrorists, all masked and clad in black clothing, singled out white people and foreigners and shouted to fellow Muslims to run out.
The exclusive Westgate centre is often frequented by wealthy Kenyans and expatriates from in the country and outside. Police have urged residents to stay away from the area.
debkafile: The terrorists’ modus operandi and their Arabic speech points to an al Qaeda gang which reached Nairobi from neighboring Somalia or the sea.
Or else they are members of the Islamist al-Shabaab terrorist movement of Somalia, which is linked to al Qaeda. This violent group has vowed revenge against Kenya for its military support of the Mogadishu government. In the past year, Kenyan and Somali troops wrested large areas of southern and central Somalia from Al Shabaab insurgent control. In a ground, air and naval assault, they ousted Al Shabaab from the key Somali port town of Kismayo, their last major urban stronghold.