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At least 68 killed in terrorist attack at Kenyan shopping mall

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At least 68 people have been shot and killed in a terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. In a rapidly developing story, the majority of hostages have been freed from the mall, which was taken hostage by the AL-Qaeda linked group AL-Shabab, who say they are conducting the siege in retaliation for Kenya's 2011 push into neighboring Somalia.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kenya Defense Forces say they had rescued "most" hostages and taken control of most of the mall. Four military personnel were injured in the operation. A large explosion rocked the mall where the Islamic extremists had been holding the hostages a day after attacking it.

Witnesses at the mall said the explosion is by far the largest in siege. More than 175 people were wounded. Three people from the United Kingdom were confirmed dead. The Kenyan military has gone into the four-story mall and there have been sporadic gun battles.

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Prime Minister David Cameron warned Britain to brace for "more bad news" after the "absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality."

The number of people still being kept captive hasn't been confirmed. Kenya's Red Cross says that 49 people were reported missing. Non-Muslims were specifically targeted during the attack.

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Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked rebel group AL-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in which they used grenades and assault rifles. The AL-Shabab troops included women.

"Kenyans have blood on their hands," an al-Shabab spokesman told Channel 4 News. "Anyone who is prepared to come to Kenya must be prepared to face the reality.

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"We don't fear Europeans and Americans because we are not weak. And we are saying to the Europeans and the Americans who have been supporting those who have been attacking us, you should tell the Kenyans to stop their aggression if you want to be safe."

"We'll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest," AL-Shabab tweeted.

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, elected five short months ago, confirmed that his nephew and his nephew's fiancee were killed in the attack. Kenyatta reiterated his government's determination to continue fighting AL-Shabab.

"We... went into Somalia to help stabilize the country and most importantly to fight terror that had been unleashed on Kenya and the world," he said.

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Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said a number of people were being held hostage on the third floor and the basement area of the mall. Kenyan security officials sought to reassure families of hostages inside but implied that hostages could die.

Called "delicate" the operation seeks to make sure that hostages were evacuated safely, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Lenku said.

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"The priority is to save as many lives as possible," Lenku said, adding that more than 1,000 people escaped the attack inside the mall yesterday.

More than 175 people were injured in the attack, Lenku added, including many children. Kenyan forces were in control of the mall's security cameras.

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Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)