Nairobi death toll rises to 68

The death toll in the attack on a Nairobi mall has risen to 68 after nine bodies were recovered in a rescue mission, the Kenyan Red Cross Society says.

The attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Kenya's capital has killed dozens of people and wounded scores of others. The dead include Africans, Europeans, Asians and North Americans.

Some of the victims are:

SOUTH AFRICA: One South African citizen was killed, according to the country's International Relations Department.

KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta's nephew and nephew's fiancee are among the dead.

INDIA: Two Indians, 8-year-old Parmashu Jain and 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan, were killed, and four others were wounded in the attack, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.

BRITAIN: At least three U.K. nationals were killed in the attack, according to the Foreign Office, which warned the number of such fatalities is "likely to rise as further information becomes available."

FRANCE: Two French women were killed, President Francois Hollande said.

CANADA: Two Canadians, including a diplomat, died in the attack, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He paid tribute to the victims and noted the loss of diplomat Annemarie Desloges, who served in Canada's High Commission to Kenya as a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency. Her spouse Robert Munk was wounded in the attack, but has since been released from the hospital, the Canadian Press reported.

GHANA: Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor died after being injured in the attack, the West African country's presidential office said. In addition to his writings, Awoonor was a professor and served as an ambassador in Brazil, Cuba and at the U.N.

THE NETHERLANDS: A 33-year-old Dutch woman died in the attack and seven other Dutch citizens who were in the mall escaped unharmed, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said. The victim's identity wasn't immediately released.

CHINA: A 38-year-old Chinese woman was killed; her son was injured and hospitalized in stable condition, the Chinese Embassy in Kenya said in a statement.

U.S.: Ruhila Adatia-Sood, wife of Ketan Sood, a foreign service national working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi was killed, USAID said in a press statement. She was a popular radio and TV personality in Kenya. Five American citizens were injured, U.S. officials said.

NEW ZEALAND: Andrew McLaren, 34, a New Zealander who manages a factory in Kenya for the avocado oil company Olivado, was wounded in the attack, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed. He was hospitalzed in stable condition.

AUSTRALIA: A dual Australian-British citizen was killed, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. It was not clear whether this victim was included among the Britons killed.

WHY THE ATTACK?

Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels said the carnage at the part Israeli-owned complex was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.

"A number of attackers are still in the building, and range between 10 to 15 gunmen," he said in a statement. "We believe there are some innocent people in the building, that is why the operation is delicate."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation late Saturday that he had lost family members in the attack.

"Let me make it clear. We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime," he vowed.

The Westgate mall is popular with wealthy Kenyans and expatriates, and was packed with around 1,000 shoppers when the gunmen marched in at midday Saturday, tossed grenades and sprayed automatic gunfire at terrified people.

Security agencies have long feared that the shopping centre could be targeted by Al Qaeda-linked groups.

The attack was the worst in Nairobi since an Al-Qaeda bombing at the US embassy killed more than 200 people in 1998.

After a day and night of sometimes ferocious gun battles, security sources said police and soldiers had finally "pinned down" the gunmen. The Kenyan Red Cross appealed for blood donations and authorities urged residents to steer clear of the area.

"We are still battling with the attackers and our forces have managed to maroon the attackers on one of the floors," said Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna.

"We still do not know the number of hostages nor the attackers but we hope to bring this to an end today."

One teenage survivor recounted to AFP how he played dead to avoid being killed.

"I heard screams and gunshots all over the place. I got scared. I tried to run down the stairs and saw someone running towards the top, I ran back and hid behind one of the cars," 18-year-old Umar Ahmed said.

In the hours after the attack began, shocked people of all ages and races could be seen running from the mall, some clutching babies, while others crawled along walls to avoid stray bullets.

"They spoke something that seemed like Arabic or Somali," said a man who escaped the mall and gave his name only as Jay. "I saw people being executed after being asked to say something."

Kenyan police, troops and special forces then moved in and went shop-to-shop inside the shopping centre. Foreign security officials -- from Israel, the United States and Britain -- were also seen at the complex.

An AFPTV reporter said she saw at least 20 people rescued from a toy shop, some of them children taken away on stretchers.

Kenneth Kerich, who was shopping when the attack happened, described scenes of utter panic.

"I suddenly heard gunshots and saw everyone running around so we lied down. I saw two people who were lying down and bleeding, I think they were hit by bullets," he said.

"The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. I saw at least 50 people shot," mall employee Sudjar Singh told AFP.

Ghanaian poet Awoonor, 78, who was once his country's representative to the United Nations, was killed while shopping with his son, who was injured in the attack, Ghanaian officials said.

A spokesman for Shebab said the attack was retaliation for Kenya's nearly two-year-old military presence in war-torn Somalia in support of the internationally backed Mogadishu government.

"We have warned Kenya of that attack but it ignored (us), still forcefully holding our lands... while killing our innocent civilians," Shebab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement.

"If you want Kenya in peace, it will not happen as long as your boys are in our lands."

The group also issued a string of statements via Twitter, one of them claiming that Muslims in the centre had been "escorted out by the Mujahideen before beginning the attack".

Police at the scene said a suspect wounded in the firefight had been detained and taken to hospital under armed guard, and later died of his injuries.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled by the brutal attack against innocent citizens" and sent her "sincere condolences to those who have lost family, friends and loved ones".

Paris confirmed that two French citizens were among those killed in what it condemned as a "cowardly" attack. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said two Canadians, one of them a diplomat, were among the dead, while official Chinese news agency Xinhua said one Chinese woman was killed and her child wounded.

Two Indians and a South Korean were also among the dead.

The United States said its citizens were reportedly among those injured by the "despicable" act while British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there were "undoubtedly British nationals caught up in this so we should be ready for that".

The UN Security Council condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms".

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