'White widow' in Kenya mall attack?
AS KENYAN special forces closed in on holdout Islamist fighters battling in a Nairobi mall yesterday, speculation grew that a British woman nicknamed "white widow" was among the attackers.
Samantha Lewthwaite, daughter of a British soldier, is the widow of suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, who blew himself up on a London Underground train on July 7, 2005, killing 26 people.
Media reports, which have dubbed the 29-year-old "white widow", have linked her to plotting or masterminding attacks across the Horn of Africa region, though often with little clear evidence of her role.
Officials have given contradictory statements.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed has said that a British woman was in the attack, telling United States public broadcaster PBS that "she has, I think, done this many times before".
But Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku had earlier denied that any of the insurgents were women, but noted that some male attackers "had dressed like women".
London refused to be drawn on comments that a British woman was among the militants behind the mall attack.
In 2011, Kenyan police issued wanted notices for Lewthwaite, saying she was travelling under a false South African passport with the name Natalie Faye Webb, accompanied by her three children.
Islamist militants who staged the deadly attack said yesterday that hostages are still alive and that fighters are "still holding their ground", as Nairobi's city morgue braced itself for the arrival of a large number of bodies, an official said.
The Kenyan military said that its forces were carrying out "mop-up operations" in the building.
The Kenyan Red Cross has confirmed that at least 62 people have been killed, but spokesman Abbas Gullet said that it still does not know if there are any more bodies inside the building.