Kenya mall attack: 39 killed, confirms president

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Nairobi, Sep 22: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday that 39 people have been killed and more than 150 injured by armed terrorists who attacked upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. He said he lost "very close family members" in the attack carried out by "despicable perpetrators" of a cowardly act.

Kenyatta said that hundreds of people were safely evacuated from the mall. Two Indians, including a 8-year-old boy, were also killed while four Indians were injured in the attack. The deceased were identified as Sridhar Natarajan, a 40-year-old engineer, and Parmanshu Jain.

He also said Kenyans' courage and sympathy saved lives and reassured countless people. He said security forces were responding to the attack. He called it a delicate operation and said a top priority was to safeguard the lives of those still being held hostage. Al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Terrified shoppers huddled in back hallways and prayed they would not be found by the Islamic extremist gunmen lobbing grenades and firing assault rifles inside Nairobi's top mall yesterday. When the coast was thought to be clear, crying mothers clutching small children and blood-splattered men sprinted out of the four-story mall.

Eight Indians were among those injured in the attack in the Nairobi mall

The al-Qaida-linked gunmen asked the victims they had cornered if they were Muslim: If the answer was yes, several witnesses said, those people were free to go. The non-Muslims were not. Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility and said the attack was retribution for Kenyan forces' 2011 push into Somalia. The rebels threatened more attacks.

Foreigners are expected to be among the casualties. There are reports of American citizens injured in the attack but the United States State Department said it had no further details. As night fell in Kenya's capital, hostages remained inside the mall, but officials didn't or couldn't say how many. Two contingents of army special forces troops had moved inside as the stand-off stretched into its ninth hour.

The United Nations, the Indian government and voices from across the globe condemned the attack.

AP

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