Nairobi mall siege to end soon: Kenyan military

Sep 23, 2013, 13:31 IST | IANS

Kenya's military authorities said early Monday a siege to rescue hostages still holed up in a mall after a terrorist attack Saturday may come to an end soon as the death toll rose to 68

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesman Cyrus Oguna said military personnel have been able to rescue most of the people from the Westgate shopping mall, noting that no more than 10 hostages were left in the building, Xinhua reported.

Pic: AFP

"Most of the hostages have been released and KDF has taken control of most parts of the building. We believe there are no more than 10 hostages remaining inside the building," Oguna told Xinhua over telephone early Monday.

Heavy gunfire could be heard from inside the shopping mall early Monday where the terrorists were still holding a few hostages.

It was difficult to ascertain what was going on as the area has been sealed off by the security forces conducting the operation.

Oguna said four Kenyan soldiers were rushed to the hospital for treatment after sustaining minor injuries as they tried to secure hostages during the operation.

"Our four KDF soldiers sustained minor injuries during the rescue operation but we have confined the gunmen to one location,” he said.

“Most of them were dehydrated and suffering from shock. We are looking for a speedy conclusion of the operation."

So far, apart from two Indians confirmed dead, two French nationals, two Canadians, three Britons, one Chinese and one Ghanaian have lost their lives in the attack.

In New Delhi, officials named two of the Indians killed as Sridhar Natarajan, 40, from Tamil Nadu and an employee of a local pharmaceutical firm Harley's Limited; and Paramshu Jain, eight, the son of Manoj Jain, the branch manager of Industrial Area Branch, Bank of Baroda (Kenya Limited).

Natarajan's wife Manjula Sridhar was injured in the attack while the mother and sister of Paramshu - Mukta Jain, 38, and Poorvi Jain, 12 - were also injured.

The fourth injured is Natarajan Ramachandran, an employee of Flamingo Duty Free, Nairobi, according to official sources.

According to a report in the, another Indian was shot when he failed to answer a question on Islam posed by a heavily-armed gunman.

Joshua Hakim, who was in the mall, said that the gunmen spoke in Swahili for Muslims to identify themselves and leave.

Hakim covered the Christian name on his ID with his thumb and approached one of the attackers. He showed the plastic card.

"They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward and they said, 'What is the name of Muhammad's mother?' When he couldn't answer they just shot him," he said.

It was not clear from the media report whether the Indian was injured or fatally shot. The hostage crisis that began Saturday has left at least 68 people dead and more than 175 injured. Nine more bodies were removed from the mall Sunday night.

The intensive operation came as militants warned via a feed on social media website Twitter that the security forces' attempt to land on the roof of the building would pose danger to the hostages.

"Kenyan forces who have just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardising the lives of hostages," the militants said as they ruled out negotiations over hostages being held by the terrorists. 

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