After reports of billowing smoke appearing from the upscale shopping mall where Al-Shabaab Islamist extremists have killed and held hostages in a brazen attack, Kenyan forces are reportedly closing in. At the moment, the terrorist group and the security team are embroiled in an intense gunfight.
Reuters reports that the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab forces have killed at least 62 people – although the number may be high as 69 – and have lost two of their own members early on Monday (Sept. 23). It has not been reported how many hostages the extremists are still holding, but there is heavy activity in and around the Westgate Mall in the capital city of Nairobi.
The Al-Shabaab, which may have ties to Al-Qaeda, have claimed the attack is in response to Kenya entering Somalia and the tensions between the two African nations have been high since 2007 according to a CNN report. Al-Shabaab has been increasingly bold in its attacks, this after a 2010 bombing in Uganda on the eve of the World Cup soccer finals which killed 60 people. The Westgate Mall attack, however, is a much larger and complex attack which indicates the group may be receiving global support from other terrorist organizations.
A Twitter account attributed to Al-Shabaab, which has since been taken down by the social media company, has been putting up running commentary about the mall attack.
“The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf,” said the tweet.
This story is still developing and we will return with updates.
See the following pages for images of the Westgate Mall situation in Nairobi, Kenya.