At least 10-15 al-Qaeda linked attackers laid siege to a Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday. At least 68 civilians were killed and at least 30 hostages were taken. Recent reports say most of the hostages have, now, been rescued, and the Kenyan military has retaken most of the Nairobi shopping mall. They were planning an aggressive push to end the siege before Monday.
The New York Times reports,
NAIROBI, Kenya — Seeking to end a siege that has left scores dead and shaken the nation, the Kenyan government said Sunday night that it was pressing an assault against Shabab militant attackers who had been holed up in a Nairobi shopping mall for more than a day.
Late Sunday, the Kenyan military announced that it had retaken “most” of the Westgate mall — the attackers had been confined to the third floor since their initial assault on Saturday — and freed more hostages, though details could not be confirmed. Helicopters circled the mall building through the night, and occasional explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard above a rainstorm in the area.
“This will end tonight — our forces will prevail,” the police command center said in a Twitter post. “Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win.”
The Shabab, a militant group mostly based in neighboring Somalia, answered with messages of their own, including warning that “Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardizing the lives of all the hostages at #Westgate.”
Later, officials said that at least four members of the security forces had been wounded. But there were no other details about additional casualties on either side.
The attack on the mall deeply distressed Kenya, a nation that has grown in stature as a force against terrorism in East Africa. As the toll mounted — at least 68 were reported dead by late Sunday, with several people still unaccounted for — the potential for even greater loss of life seemed tangible.