Kenya mall attack: two Indians among 68 killed, forces battle to end deadly siege

Kenya mall attack: two Indians among 68 killed, forces battle to end deadly siege

Police sources said they feared that toll could be much, much higher.

Nairobi:  Two Indians are among 68 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.

In a statement on Sunday, Kenya's Red Cross said that nine more bodies have been recovered, taking the toll to 68. Officials say more than 175 people were wounded in the attack.

But police sources who had entered the building on Sunday evening said they feared that toll "could be much, much higher... judging from the bodies sighted inside," reporting attackers continued to fight back.

Meanwhile, a large explosion rocked the mall late on Sunday night, by far the largest in the 30-hour siege. Somali militant group Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kenyan troops have launched an assault to end the terrifying siege by Somali militants holding hostages inside the mall. Shortly after night fell with the siege well into its second day, teams backed by Israeli agents moved in to end the bloodbath at the upmarket Westgate complex.

The disaster centre reported "sporadic gunfire" as the forces tackled remaining attackers. Kenyan officials say they expect the standoff to end "tonight".

"The criminals are now all located in one place within the building... we have as good a chance to successfully neutralise the terrorists as we can hope for," President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation.

More than 1,000 people have been rescued, but between 10 to 15 attackers - reportedly both men and women - are holding out in the multi-storey complex "as well as many unarmed, badly shaken, innocent civilians", Kenyatta said.

Terrified witnesses recounted scenes of horror as the masked gunmen tossed grenades and sprayed automatic gunfire in the packed centre in a brazen attack around midday on Saturday, sending panicked shoppers fleeing for their lives.

"They were shooting indiscriminately, it was like a movie seeing people sprayed with bullets like that," said a mall worker Zipporah Wanjiru, who emerged from the ordeal alive but in a state of shock. She said she hid under a table with five other colleagues. "I have never witnessed this in my life. Only God can heal us and our country," she said bursting into tears.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shabab rebels said the carnage at the partly Israeli-owned complex was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.

The dead also included three Britons, two French women, two Canadians including a diplomat, a Chinese women, two Indians, a South Korean, a South African and a Dutch woman, according to their governments.

Also killed was Ghanaian poet and former UN envoy Kofi Awoonor, 78, while his son was injured.

The attack, the worst in Nairobi since an Al-Qaeda bombing at the US embassy killed more than 200 people in 1998, was condemned by world powers.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called the attack "totally reprehensible".

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