Nairobi mall shooting: Gunmen tell Muslims to leave, kill at least 15 in Kenyan shopping centre

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Nairobi mall shooting

At least 15 people are reported to be dead as a gun fight continues between police and armed men at a shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

One witness claimed gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave and that only non-Muslims would be targeted. 

Security guards were seen wheeling out bloodstained bodies in shopping trolleys from upmarket mall in the Westlands district of the city, witnesses said, after the attack that broke out at midday today.

Locals and tourists who had come out shopping on the sunny Saturday morning ran screaming from the building and cars were left abandoned as attackers threw grenades and fired AK47s.

Killings: At least 15 people are believed to be dead, although police have not confirmed a death toll

Killings: At least 15 people are believed to be dead, although police have not confirmed a death toll

Victim: Rescuers attempt to evacuate a man injured in a shootout

Victim: Rescuers attempt to evacuate a man injured in a shootout

Horror: Customers are evacuated from the shopping centre covered in blood

Horror: Customers are evacuated from the shopping centre covered in blood

Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Guled told Reuters: 'I would say so far we have at least 15 dead. The casualties are many, and that's only what we have on the outside.'

At least nine people were carried out of the building bleeding from wounds to their limbs and two others were wheeled unconscious from the scene in shopping trolleys.

A young boy is believed to have been among those killed.

There were unconfirmed reports of two large explosions, with several smaller explosions. Two people were reportedly injured on the road.

'We have officers at the scene trying to get out the group shooting inside. They have not been located,' a senior police official said.

'Officers are approaching the situation with caution because there are innocent civilians inside,' he said.

Shootout: A police officer takes up position at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi

Shootout: A police officer takes up position at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi

Escape: An injured man who managed to flee the attackers is treated by paramedics outside the shopping centre

Escape: An injured man who managed to flee the attackers is treated by paramedics outside the shopping centre

Police officers arrived about a half an hour after about five armed assailants stormed the building, witnesses say, and took cover behind vehicles outside.

Dutch embassy employee Rob Vandijk said he had been eating at a restaurant in the shopping mall when gunmen threw hand grenades inside the building, before machine-gun fire rang out and people began to drop to the ground.

Officials have not given the exact death toll as police and gunmen are continuing to exchange fire, but reporters said they had seen at least 15 bodies.

Police initially believed the attack was an attempt by about ten armed men to rob a shop.

But Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue has now said it was a terrorist attack.

Elijah Kamau, a witness, told AP that the gunmen had announced that they were targeting non-Muslims as they began their attack at the centre.

Gunfight: Police are still trying to escort people away from the site where fighting continues

Gunfight: Police are still trying to escort people away from the site where fighting continues

Hostages: Police say armed men are still in the building and are holding prisoners

Hostages: Police say armed men are still in the building and are holding prisoners

'They don't seem like thugs, this is not a robbery incident,' said Yukeh Mannasseh who was on the top floor when the shooting started.

'It seems like an attack. The guards who saw them said they were shooting indiscriminately.'

Somali's rebel group al-Shabab vowed in late 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya's sending of troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic insurgents.

'The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. There are definitely many casualties,' Sudjar Singh, who works at the shopping centre, told AFP.

'I saw three of the attackers dressed in black and with covered faces and they were carrying heavy rifles,' said another witness.

Shock: Witnesses said a half dozen grenades went off along with volleys of gunfire that started at midday

Shock: Witnesses said a half dozen grenades went off along with volleys of gunfire that started at midday

Stand-off: Soldiers are still searching in and around the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi after armed men attempted to rob a shop

Stand-off: Soldiers are still searching in and around the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi after the supposed terrorist attack

Errol Fernandes, a Kenyan businessman said: 'There were two guys – they came in from the car park on the roof. One had dreadlocks, he had an AK47 and was firing randomly.

'I just ran into the café kitchen and then we all hid in the refrigerator, until we were told to run out of the fire escape.

'I'm sure there must be many dead and injured.'

'The gunmen tried to fire at my head but missed. There are definitely many casualties,' Sudjar Singh, who works at the shopping centre, told AFP.

'I saw three of the attackers dressed in black and with covered faces and they were carrying heavy rifles,' said another witness.

Police say that attackers are holding hostages in the building, and a number of other bystanders are said to be still trapped inside.

A Reuters photographer said armed police were searching for more members of the gang as sporadic gunfire continues.

Terrorist: Somali Islamist attacks are not uncommon in Kenya, although police have not confirmed the identity of the attackers

Terrorist: Somali Islamist attacks are not uncommon in Kenya, although police have not confirmed the identity of the attackers

Family mall: Customers who had planned a Saturday of shopping were forced to run following a shootout between unidentified armed men and the police

Family mall: Customers who had planned a Saturday of shopping were forced to run following a shootout between unidentified armed men and the police

Rescue: A woman with her two children are helped from the mall as the fighting continues

Rescue: A woman with her two children are helped from the mall as the fighting continues

Attacks by Somali Islamists in Kenya often involve gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades, with targets including bars, nightclubs and restaurants in various parts of the country.

There was a suspected al-Shabaab attack which left five dead and three injured at a restaurant in the eastern city of Garissa in January, and in August last year one person was killed and six more were left injured in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi on the eve of a visit by Hillary Clinton, then the United States secretary of state.

Last month 18 of the 19 US embassies and consulates across the Middle East and Africa were closed after a message between al Qaida officials about plans for a major terror attack was intercepted.

The Foreign Office says it is 'urgently looking into' the incident and has echoed Kenyan police with warnings to Britons to avoid the area.

 

 

Tagged : Trending, Nairobi mall shooting, Kenya Mall Shooting, Somali Islamists in Kenya

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