Nairobi, Kenya (UPDATE)– Kenyan armed forces launched a “major” assault on the gunmen in the Nairobi mall on Sunday night about midnight ‘Kenya forces attack’, and “most” of the hostages have now been freed, according to media reports.
A huge explosion was heard from inside the mall, by far the largest of the entire 30-hour siege, say witnesses. After the explosion there was silence.
Kenya forces attack “This will end tonight,” said Kenya’s Disaster Operation Center.
Kenya forces attack on 21 September 2013, unidentified gunmen attacked the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack, which lasted until 24 September, resulted in at least 67 deaths, including four attackers. Over 175 people were reportedly wounded in the mass shooting, with all of the gunmen reported killed.
Kenya’s Defense Forces now control most of the mall, and the al-Shabaab terrorists have been cornered in one location.
Authorities believe there are 10-15 gunmen inside the mall. The Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the incident, which it characterised as retribution for the Kenyan military’s deployment in the group’s home country of Somalia. Many media outlets also suspected the insurgent group’s involvement in the attack based on earlier reprisal warnings it had issued in the wake of Operation Linda Nchi from 2011 to 2012.
Kenyan authorities arrested dozens of people in the aftermath of the attack, but had not announced any suspects directly related to the siege. On 4 November 2013, a Kenyan court charged four Somali nationals with harbouring the gunmen in their homes, with each pleading not guilty.
There are reports that Kenyan forces attack are being backed by Israeli agents, who are especially involved in rescuing the hostages and the injured.
The latest death toll stands at 68, with some 175 injured.
Officials said four Kenyan military personnel were wounded in the operation.
Some reports indicate the hostages have been hiding in various areas of the mall, and not actually being held by the gunmen. Image/AP