Kenyan Officials Believe 2 or 3 Americans Were Involved in Mall Attack
According to Kenyan officials, the country's special forces are no longer meeting resistance from attackers in a days-long mall siege that has left at least 62 dead.
According to Kenyan officials, the country's special forces are no longer meeting resistance from attackers in a days-long mall siege that has left at least 62 dead. But as the remaining hostages are evacuated, another development is complicating the story so far: even after al-Shabab, a militant group based in Somalia, claimed credit for the attack, Kenya's foreign minister told Al Jazeera that the mall siege is actually the work of Al Qaeda.
72 hours after the attack on Westgate, operations to capture and secure the building and release the hostages are approaching final stages.— Disaster OpCentre KE (@NDOCKenya) September 23, 2013
We're in control of #Westgate— InteriorCNG Ministry (@InteriorKE) September 23, 2013
Three days ago, armed terrorists took control of Westgate, an upscale Nairobi mall, reportedly targeting non-Muslims and Kenyan citizens to take as hostages. In addition to the dead, at least 180 were injured in the attack. Those killed in the attack include family members of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, Ghanian Poet Kofi Awoonor, Ross Langdon, a British-Australian architect who designed a HIV-AIDS hospital in Kenya free of charge, and Langdon's pregnant partner Elif Yavuza, who worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
As for the identity of the attackers, little is known, though Gen. Julius Karangi, the chief of the Kenyan Defense Forces, told the AP that the group of 10-15 attackers are clearly "multinational." There are still a number of conflicting reports on the attackers, and their nationalities are not known.
Update: Officials say they've arrested at least 10 suspects possibly connected to the attack. Three "terrorists" were reportedly killed by security forces. This image, circulating widely on twitter, reportedly shows a hostage emerging from the scene of the siege:
FINALLY: Kenya hostages evacuated, security in charge of entire #Westgate mall http://t.co/K2r8uCN6tp pic.twitter.com/aNSHP4SPH5— The New Vision (@newvisionwire) September 23, 2013
Update, 8:30 p.m.: The Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said on Monday that the militants attacking the mall included “two or three Americans” and “one Brit." Here's more from the Washington Post, according to the official:
The Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived “in Minnesota and one other place” in United States. The British jihadist was a woman who has “done this many times before,” Mohamed said.
The State Department hasn't yet said that they've confirmed the involvement of any Americans in the attack — there have been a number of conflicting reports on the attackers identities, including some citing now-shuttered (and presumed to be fake) Twitter accounts claiming to represent al-Shabab. Earlier on Monday, CNN reported that the militants included two people from Minnesota, citing an al-Shabab Twitter account. But since that report aired, CNN has backed off from it, a bit, while noting that the State Department is looking into those allegations.