'We have defeated our enemies': President Uhuru Kenyatta declares Kenya shopping mall attack is over but death toll continues to rise

Uhuru Kenyatta declares three days of national mourning after 61 civilians killed and 240 injured in terror

Nairobi

The four-day siege of Nairobi’s upscale Westgate shopping mall that has left more than 60 people dead and hundreds injured has finally drawn to a close, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

In a televised address to the nation, Mr Kenyatta said Kenyan forces had “defeated” the militants belonging to Somalia’s Al Qa’ida-linked al-Shabaab group, who stormed the shopping centre on Saturday, mowing down security guards and civilians with machine guns and grenades in a meticulously-planned orgy of terror that left scores dead, many of them children.

The death toll is expected to rise sharply after three floors of the mall collapsed towards the end of the operation, trapping bodies in the rubble. Six members of Kenya’s security forces were killed during the siege. Five militants had been killed and 11 others were said to be in custody.

“We have shamed and defeated our attackers, that part of our task is completed,” said Mr Kenyatta, who lost a nephew in the attack.

“Our losses are immense. We have been badly hurt, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed. We have defeated our enemies and showed the whole world what we can accomplish,” he said, announcing three days of national mourning.

Mr Kenyatta added that forensic experts were now trying to establish whether a British woman and “two or three” American nationals were among the attackers.

“We cannot confirm the details at present but forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists,” he said.

Earlier, Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, suggested that a white woman was among the militants, fuelling speculation that she could be Samantha Lewthwaite, the British widow of one of the London 7/7 bombers thought to be hiding out in central Kenya. The Foreign Office has confirmed that it is investigating reports that at least one of the attackers may be of British origin, but UK officials have urged caution over the apparent involvement of Lewthwaite.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announces that the siege is over (Getty) President Uhuru Kenyatta announces that the siege is over (Getty)

 

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack – the worst on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy that killed 213 - saying it was retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops on Somali soil. Mr Kenyatta has refused to pull out Kenyan forces, which have as part of an African peacekeeping force in Somalia helped weaken the militant group in the past two years.

It remained unclear if all of the militants left in the mall had been accounted for, with the president saying “the worst” of the crisis was over.

Kenya’s security forces have struggled to gain control of the mall, and have on several occasions prematurely signaled that the government operation to rout the militants was nearing a conclusion. Those assurances have been further undermined by upbeat tweets from the Somali militant group, who at various times claimed to be holding off security forces. Earlier, the group wrote on its Twitter feed that “there are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen are still holding their ground #Westgate.” It went on to describe its fighters as “unruffled and strolling around the mall in such sangfroid manner.”

CCTV footage reportedly showing gunmen inside the mall CCTV footage reportedly showing gunmen inside the mall

 

A security expert with contacts inside the shopping centre said there were at least 30 hostages when the assault began on Saturday, and at least 10 were believed to be still inside. With the shopping centre cordoned off behind heavy security, it has not been possible to verify the assertions independently.

According to eyewitness accounts, at least one of the attackers escaped early on in the siege by changing his clothes to blend in with survivors.

Mr Kenyatta, who is facing trial in the Hague for his alleged role in orchestrating ethnic tensions after Kenya’s 2007 elections, called for national unity, and said in his address that “these cowards will meet justice… wherever they are.”

 

Relatives of Johnny Mutinda Musango, 48, after identifying his body (AP) Relatives of Johnny Mutinda Musango, 48, after identifying his body (AP)

In Geneva, Somalia’s prime minister called for greater international support to combat al-Shabaab but said it required more than a purely military response. “We still have a difficult journey ahead of us,” said Abdi Farah Shirdon. “A military solution alone is not enough, promotion of rule of law, greater regional cooperation and economic stability and provision of public services are all key factors that complement the military effort.”

Kenyan soldiers take their positions at the Westgate shopping centre (Reuters) Kenyan soldiers take their positions at the Westgate shopping centre (Reuters)

 

Further reading:

British boy freed after telling jihadist: 'You're a bad man'
Hero ex-Marine re-entered mall 12 times to save 100 people
The victims came from around the world. So did their killers
Was wife of 7/7 bomber among attackers?
'All hostages freed' as Kenyan soldiers take control of mall
Kenyans are more united in tragedy’s aftermath
The victims: The architect and his pregnant wife
Video: Amateur footage from Kenya shopping mall attack
Ian Birrell: How to fight al-Shabaab

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot