Sep 24, 2013

    Nairobi victims forced to recite creed

    AROUND a dozen assailants were involved in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that has left at least 62 dead since the raid began on Saturday, The Standard newspaper reported yesterday, after examining security-camera footage.

    The footage confirmed witness accounts that the attackers - armed with grenades, rifles and pistols and loaded with ammunition - stormed the mall from both the front and rear.

    People were ordered to recite the Islamic creed, according to several witness accounts. Those able to recite at least the first couple of words were spared. Those who were unable were shot.

    "When I mentioned the first word of the Shahada (creed), they moved on. That was how I survived," one survivor was quoted as saying by The Standard.

    The footage also showed gunmen subjecting toilet doors to a barrage of gunfire, apparently after learning that large numbers of people were holed up inside.

    Four large blasts rocked Kenya's Westgate Mall yesterday, as Kenyan military forces sought to rescue an unknown number of hostages held by the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

    The explosions were followed by volleys of gunfire, then a thick, dark column of smoke. Military and police helicopters and a plane circled over the Nairobi mall, giving the upscale Westlands neighbourhood the feel of a war zone.

    Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said yesterday that the siege was ending, with Islamist attackers still fighting, but left with no way out of the complex.

    Mr Lenku told a press conference: "We think the operation will come to an end soon. We are in control of all the floors, the terrorists are running and hiding in some stores... There is no room for escape."

    Kenyans and foreigners were among those confirmed dead, including British, French, Canadians, Indians, a Ghanaian, a South African and a Chinese woman.

    From neighbouring Somalia, spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage for Al-Shabab - the militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack - said in an audio file posted on a website that the hostage-takers had been ordered to "take punitive action against the hostages" if force was used to try to rescue them.

    At least 62 people have been killed, while 63 are missing, the Kenya Red Cross said.