Al-Shabaab jihadists are still holding many hostages at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. It has been 24 hours since they opened fire on the civilians and Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Joe Lenku confirmed there are 59 people dead and 175 wounded.
On Saturday, at least 10 jihadists invaded the mall and told witnesses they only wanted to murder non-Muslims. They forced the civilians, even the women and children, to prove they were Muslim and if they could not the civilian was murdered. Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent for The Independent told the BBC about one case.
He told the BBC a man called Joshua Hakim, who was part of a group that had guns pointed at them, put his thumb over his first name on his identity card and was allowed to leave by the militants.
Mr Hakim told Mr Howden that an Indian man who was asked for the name of the mother of the Prophet by the militants could not answer and was shot.
Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda affiliated terror group that is trying totopple the Somalian government. The tensions between them and Kenya arehigh because Kenya sent troops in 2011 to aid the Somalian government.Somalian Pesident Hassan Sheikh Mohamud released this statement:
“We in Somalia know only too well the human costs ofviolence like this. We send a strong message of solidarity with theKenyan government, our valued partners in the campaign to bring peace toSomalia.”
“These heartless acts against defenceless civilians, includinginnocent children, are beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated. We standshoulder to shoulder with Kenya in its time of grief for these liveslost and the many injured.”
By morning, local TV stations reported the remaining gunmen were contained, but there were many hostages in unsecure locations. Al-Shabaab said there are 30 hostages, but police will not release any information about how many are still in the mall. At dawn, authorities were greeted by gunfire from the gunmen inside and outside of the mall. At least two soldiers were wounded. Kenyan police told the media and public to stay away from Westgate for their own safety.
Afua Hirsch, West Africa Correspondent for the Guardian, tweeted that Ghanian poet Kofi Awoonor is one of the victims. He was also a professor of African literature at the University of Ghana.
The Westgate is under Israeli ownership and the Israeli military intelligence analysis website said their security are helping Kenya’s military. The British Army is providing more food at a hospital and the victims.
Breitbart News will continue to update as more confirmed information comes in. Please follow the hashtags #Nairobi and #Westgate on Twitter. Mary Chastain is also providing as many updates as possible on Twitter.
**UPDATE 9AM ET**
The US Embassy in Kenya is telling Americans in the area to stay indoors. The US government is suspending travel to Kenya until further notice.
Israeli forces are helping Kenyan authorities and military.
Three British nationals are among the dead.
President Kenyatta spoke to the media about developments. He said there are 10-15 attackers, both male and female. He also said Kenya will not stop fighting terror:
They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts. “We will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully. If their thought was to intimidate us, they have just renewed the fight. We went as a nation to Somalia to fight the war against terror unleashed on Kenya people, Somali people and people around the world. This is one attempt that has succeeded, there have been numerous attempts that have been thwarted. Kenyans must play their part too. We call on people of goodwill to join us. This has increased our commitment to fight and win this war. We need to work together to fight the terrorist battle not just here in Kenya…this is not a Kenyan war, this is an international war and we need to join hands and work together to see it effectively destroyed.
**UPDATE 4:28PM ET**
Most of the hostages have been released!
Most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building
– Kenya Defence Forces (@kdfinfo) September 22, 2013