At least 59 civilians have been killed in the brutal Nairobi shopping mall attack targeting non-Muslims in Kenya. There are at least 10-15 al-Qaeda linked attackers involved, including women, who are still holding at least 30 hostages. The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Among the dead are two French citizens, a Canadian civilian and diplomat and three Britons. All the Israelis made it out safely, but several U.S. citizens are among the injured. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the wife of a U.S. diplomat working for the U.S. Agency for International Development was killed. There are reports that U.S. and Israeli forces are aiding Kenyan security forces. The brutal attackers are reportedly taunting security forces and chanting “All praise is due to Allah”.
Al-Shabab, which has links to Al-Qaida and is battling Kenyan and other African peacekeepers in Somalia, had repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of the Horn of Africa country.
The group appeared to taunt the security forces, saying on its official Twitter handle aHSMiPress that there would be no negotiations whatsoever with Kenyan officials over the standoff.
“10 hours have passed and the Mujahideen are still strong inside iWestgate Mall and still holding their ground. All praise is due to Allah!,” the group said.
The raid presents Kenyatta with his first major security challenge since a March election victory. He has vowed to defeat the militants who have said it is time to shift the war to Kenyan soil.
“We have overcome terrorist attacks before,” he said.
The assault has been the biggest single attack in Kenya since Al-Qaida’s East Africa cell bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing more than 200 people. In 2002, the same militant cell attacked an Israeli-owned hotel on the coast and tried to shoot down an Israeli jet in a coordinated attack.
Kerry said the United States had offered assistance to the Kenyan government.
“The perpetrators of this heinous act must be brought to justice, and we have offered our full support to the Kenyan Government to do so,” he said in his statement.
A coordinated attack led by Al-Shabab led to several injured at a market in Mogadishu, Somalia, the attack happened at the same time as the Nairobi mall attack.