2 Militants Dead as Kenya Forces Storm Mall

'We are in charge of the situation, our people are safe,' says interior minister
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2013 4:49 AM CDT
Updated Sep 23, 2013 7:59 AM CDT
Blasts, Gunfire as Kenya Mall Siege Enters 3rd Day
Kenyan security personnel ask journalists to clear the area outside the Westgate Mall.   (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

Kenyan security forces are claiming control of a Nairobi shopping mall in the midst of a new assault aimed at ending the three-day-old siege, reports the BBC, with large explosions and gunfire heard in the area as smoke billows from the Westgate Mall. "We are in charge of the situation, our people are safe," says the country's interior minister, and the AP reports that he says two militants have been killed thus far in the operation. "We have an idea who these people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world," says a Kenyan general. The number of hostages inside is believed to be "very, very minimal," says the minister; the military claimed to have freed "most hostages" last night.

In other developments:

  • The Red Cross has revised the death toll downward to 62, reports CNN, and most are Kenyans. But they also include Ghanian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor, one of Africa's most distinguished literary figures, reports CNN. British, Canadian, French, Dutch, South African, Indian, and Chinese nationals were also killed, and there are at least five Americans among the 175 wounded.
  • The International Criminal Court in the Hague has allowed Kenya's deputy president to take a week off from his trial for crimes against humanity to deal with the crisis in Nairobi. "The world would have found it intolerable if the president and vice president of the United States were not in the country after 9/11," his lawyer told judges. "Well, this is Kenya's 9/11."
  • Some survivors reported seeing a white woman among the attackers, raising suspicions that "White Widow" Samantha Lewthwaite, a British woman whose husband was among the 7/7 London suicide bombers, is involved in the attack, Reuters reports. CNN terror analyst Peter Bergen, however, finds that unlikely. "Typically these groups are misogynist," he says. "Their view is the woman should be in a home and shrouded in a body veil."
(Read more Westgate mall stories.)

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