Kenya mall attack: two Indians among 59 killed, hostage stand-off continues

Kenya mall attack: two Indians among 59 killed, hostage stand-off continues

Armed police leave after entering the Westgate Mall in Nairobi
Associated Press

Nairobi:  Two Indians are among 59 killed in a bloody massacre by armed terrorists at a crowded, upscale mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Saturday. Nearly 300 people, including four Indians, have been wounded in the lethal assault.

"Our senior diplomats are at two hospitals - MP Shah and Agah Khan. The High Commission is in touch with the locals and will assist in any way possible," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told NDTV.

Mr Akbaruddin also said that the government was not yet able to confirm if Indians were still trapped inside the mall.

The Indians killed in the carnage have been identified as Sridhar Natarajan, 40, who was working with a pharma firm, and Paramshu Jain, 8, son of a bank manager, Mr Akbaruddin said.

Meanwhile, a large explosion has rocked the mall, by far the largest in the 30-hour siege. There was silence after the big blast.

An estimated 10 to 15 militant attackers are in the shopping mall holding an unknown number of captives. The Kenyan military has gone into the four-story mall and there have been sporadic gun battles.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a televised address, said his close family members were among the dead.

"We still have hostages in the mall, and this makes the operation delicate," Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said."The priority is to save as many lives as possible," Joseph Lenku said. Kenyan forces have already rescued about 1,000 people, he said.

Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. Several foreigners, including a Canadian diplomat, a French national and a Chinese woman were among the dead.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said there were no Americans among the dead but that several US citizens had been hurt. "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.

Al Shabab, which 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 @HSM_Press that there would be no negotiations whatsoever with Kenyan officials over the standoff.

"10 hours have passed and the Mujahideen are still strong inside #Westgate Mall and still holding their ground. All praise is due to Allah!", the group said.

The group's Twitter account was suspended shortly after its claim of responsibility and threats against Kenya. Twitter's terms of service forbids making threats.

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