A group of gunmen have stormed an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, leaving dozens dead and possibly taking more hostage. According to the New York Times, the situation is currently being called a terrorist attack by the Nairobi police because of the gunmen’s stated preference to kill only non-Muslims.
RT is reporting that there were five gunman and that they were armed with AK-47s and grenades.
AFP is reporting that at this time, it one attack suspect has been detained by police, but has died from wounds sustained in the shoot out.
ALERT: The Gunman who had been arrested, succumbs to bullet wounds – State House
— The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya) September 21, 2013
Here is what you need to know about this breaking story:
1. Estimates Say at Least 30 Are Dead
— ABruZzi (@ngwata_francis) September 21, 2013
The most recent reports from a number of new agencies, including RT, is that at least 30 are dead and over 60 are injured after the group of five heavily armed gunman stormed the mall.
The gunmen reportedly tossed grenades into the lobby of the mall before shooting indiscriminately. In the picture above, police have begun combing through the mall one store a a time.
2. It is an Active Hostage Situation
— Jacaranda Newsteam (@Jacanews) September 21, 2013
— SMSMediaUganda (@SMSMediaUganda) September 21, 2013
After the initial assault, it is believed that the gunmen took at least seven hostages. It is unclear at this time if the gunmen have any more hostages, if the hostages have been set free, or where the police are in their process of finding and engaging the gunman. Some are saying, like in the tweet above, that some of those taken hostage inside the mall are UN staff members.
CNN is now reporting that there are as many as 36 hostages and that the terror group responsible claims there will be, “no negotiations.”
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) September 21, 2013
3. Reports: The Gunman Only Targeted Non-Muslims
Fox News is currently reporting that a man named Elijah Kamau, who claims to have been inside the mall at the time of the attack, witnessed the gunmen telling people that the Muslims in the mall were safe.
He said, “The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted.”
The Daily Mail is reporting that some survivors, when their religion was challenged by the gunmen, was forced to recite an Islamic prayer to prove that they were Muslim. Those who could, were reportedly released.
The Westgate mall is a very popular place amongst Nairobi’s western expatriate community.
4. The U.S. Embassy Has Issued a Warning
According to the New York Times, the United States embassy in Nairobi has issued a statement for all Americans in Kenya to stay away from public venues.
5. Somali Group al Shabaab Has Taken Credit
At least 20 feared dead in Nairobi mall attack pic.twitter.com/dwLHyEvSPB
— ST Foreign Desk (@STForeignDesk) September 21, 2013
— AJELive (@AJELive) September 21, 2013
RT is currently reporting that Somali group al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for attack. The infamous Somali militant group has made previous threats against this particular mall because of its popularity among expatriates.
BBC is reporting that the group tweeted this afternoon:
The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders. #Wetsgate
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) September 21, 2013
An al-Qaeda propaganda video has emerged online depicting children training with pistols, AK-47s, and even heavy machine guns in an Afghan terrorist camp.Click here to read more