Monday, September 23, 2013

Kenya police vow to ‘finish and punish’ terrorists







A Kenyan police officer guards the entrance of a building near the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, September 23. Gunmen burst into the mall and opened fire in a deadly attack on September 21. Kenyan authorities sounded increasingly confident Monday that they had brought the three-day standoff to a close, reassuring a nervous public that there was little chance of escape for any surviving Al-Shabaab gunmen who had terrorized the mall, killing dozens of people.A Kenyan police officer guards the entrance of a building near the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, September 23. Gunmen burst into the mall and opened fire in a deadly attack on September 21. Kenyan authorities sounded increasingly confident Monday that they had brought the three-day standoff to a close, reassuring a nervous public that there was little chance of escape for any surviving Al-Shabaab gunmen who had terrorized the mall, killing dozens of people.















































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STORY HIGHLIGHTS



  • NEW: As night fell in Nairobi, there was no clear resolution of mall standoff

  • NEW: Authorities yet to sound the all-clear about 6 hours after an assault by Kenyan forces

  • Death toll revised down to 62; some bodies had been double-counted, Red Cross says

  • Terror group Al-Shabaab claims three Americans among the attackers








Are you in Nairobi? Send us your images and experiences, but please stay safe.


Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — Night fell Monday in Nairobi with no clear resolution of the standoff between Kenyan forces and terrorists at Westgate Shopping Mall.


Kenyan authorities sounded increasingly confident that they had brought the three-day standoff to a close with a final assault Monday, reassuring a nervous public that there was little chance of escape for any surviving Al-Shabaab gunmen who had terrorized the mall, killing at least 62 people.


“Taken control of all the floors. We’re not here to feed the attackers with pastries but to finish and punish them,” Kenyan police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said on Twitter.


But it wasn’t clear Monday evening whether any hostages remained inside the four-story mall, and authorities had yet to sound the all-clear about six hours after the assault by Kenyan forces.





See CNN anchor react to Kenya gunfire






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Gunfire echoed from the mall sporadically during the day, sending journalists and aid workers scrambling for cover. Thick heavy smoke — from a fire set by terrorists, according to Kenyan authorities — billowed into the air much of the afternoon.


Kenya assault raises new fears about Somali recruitment


Three terrorists have been confirmed killed since Saturday, the Interior Ministry said Monday. Eleven Kenyan soldiers have been wounded, according to the Kenya Defence Forces. More than 200 civilians have been rescued, the military said.


Away from the mall, Kenyan authorities said they had arrested more than 10 people for questioning in connection with the attack, including at least four taken into custody at an airport.


Authorities urged law enforcement officers to closely scrutinize travelers’ documents, and the country’s Immigration Department said in a tweet that it had increased security at entry and exit points.


Surviving the Nairobi mall massacre: ‘Just lucky’


Americans involved?


Before its Twitter account was suspended, Al-Shabaab issued a list of the names of nine people it said were among the attackers. It said three were from the United States, two from Somalia and one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom.





U.S. officials don’t have any confirmation of Americans having been involved in the attack, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters, and a senior U.S. official told CNN that Al-Shabaab’s claim that Americans were among its ranks of attackers at Westgate seemed less solid.


Intelligence analysts are poring over electronic intercepts in an effort to verify or knock down the terror group’s claims, two law enforcement sources told CNN.


The FBI also was looking into the claims but has not yet confirmed them, law enforcement officials told CNN.


Federal officials and Somali-American leaders in Minneapolis have reported that Al-Shabaab has recruited young men there to go to Africa to fight.


The siege


The terrorist attack began at midday Saturday, Nairobi time, with an estimated 10 to 15 gunmen taking over the mall in what hospital volunteer Abiti Shah said witnesses told her was “like a Hollywood action scene.”


“They just started firing in the air,” Shah said, retelling the witness accounts.


A youth cooking competition was taking place at the mall at the time, and terrified shoppers fled for their lives as gunfire echoed through the building.


Witnesses said the gunmen went from store to store, shooting people, and then took hostages.


Survivor Bendita Malakia, a North Carolina woman who moved to Nairobi in July, told CNN affiliate WAVY that she took refuge behind the closed metal gates of a store with dozens of others.


The Kenyan spirit cannot be broken’ says eyewitness resident


“While we were back there, you could hear them methodically going from store to store, talking to people and asking questions,” she said. “They were shooting, screaming. Then it would stop for a while and they would go to another store.”


Al-Shabaab has claimed that the attackers targeted non-Muslims and vowed they would not negotiate for the hostages’ lives. CNN security analyst Peter Bergen said the terrorists apparently took hostages only to prolong the siege and win more media attention.


The dead


Most of the dead were said to be Kenyans.


Four British citizens, two French nationals and two Canadians, including a diplomat, also died, their governments said.


Those killed include:


• A 33-year-old Dutch woman, said Friso Vijnen, according to a Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry official.


• A major African poet, author and Ghanian statesman, Kofi Awoonor, Ghana’s president said.


• The nephew of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the man’s fiancee.


• A Peruvian doctor, Juan Jesus Ortiz, who had previously worked for the United Nations Fund for Children and lived in Kenya doing consulting work, the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.


The wounded





Al Qaeda-linked group claims attacks






Witness: We saw lots of blood






A deeper look at Al-Shabaab






How safe are America’s malls?



Kenyatta said more than 175 people had been wounded. Five were Americans, the State Department said Sunday.


Elaine Dang, 26, a University of California, Berkeley, graduate from San Diego, underwent surgery to her chest, arms and legs.


“I’m OK, I’m very grateful to be alive,” she told CNN affiliate KFMB-TV


She said two friends died in the attack.


Al-Shabaab breaks new ground with complex Nairobi attack


The terrorists


The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab terror group had said on Twitter that it had sent the gunmen to the mall in retaliation for Kenya’s involvement in an African Union military effort against the group, which is al Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia.


Last year, the Kenyan military was part of a peacekeeping force that defeated Al-Shabaab forces to liberate the key Somali port of Kismayo.


Since Kenya launched attacks against Al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2011, the group has hurled grenades at Kenyan churches, bus stops and other public places.


The mall attack is the deadliest terror attack in Kenya since al Qaeda blew up the U.S. Embassy there in 1998, killing 213 people.


Al-Shabaab grew amid Somalia’s lawlessness


Reports of a white woman among the terrorists inside the mall were the subject of contradictory accounts Monday.


Senior Kenyan intelligence officials told CNN that surveillance video from inside the mall appears to show such a woman taking part in the attack. Analysts believe she is British, the sources said.


But Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters that all of the attackers were men. Some of them apparently had dressed as women, he said.


The reports came after earlier speculation that the Al-Shabaab-affiliated “White Widow,” Samantha Lewthwaite, may have been involved in the Westgate attack.


Lewthwaite’s husband, Germaine Lindsey, was one of the suicide bombers killed in the 2005 attack on London’s transportation system. His Buckinghamshire-born widow is wanted by Kenyan authorities for her alleged role as an Al-Shabaab and al Qaeda-linked financier.


State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu earlier said that “nothing is being ruled out” when it comes to Lewthwaite’s possible involvement.


Such involvement would be “very unusual,” said Bergen, the security analyst.


“Typically these groups are misogynist,” he said. “Their view is the woman should be in a home and shrouded in a body veil.”


The investigation


Lenku said that Monday’s effort to roust the terrorists was a Kenyan operation, but government sources told CNN that Israeli special forces also were at the scene.


Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, vowed Sunday to punish those responsible for the attacks.


“They shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully,” he said.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry promised an American investigation.


Kenya bloodshed: World leaders react


“Obviously, it’s an enormous offense against everybody’s sense of right and wrong,” Kerry said. “It represents the seriousness and the breadth of the challenge we face with ruthless and completely reckless terrorists, and we’re going to pursue them.”


Michael Pearson reported and wrote from Atlanta; Zain Verjee and Nima Elbagir reported from Nairobi. CNN’s Arwa Damon, Lillian Lesposo, Holly Yan, Greg Botelho, Brian Walker, Jackie Castillo and David Simpson also contributed to this report.






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Kenya police vow to ‘finish and punish’ terrorists


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