The Guardian of London has reported that the siege on the Nairobi shopping Mall launched on Saturday by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group appears to have come to an end.
“We believe all hostages have been released… situation of hostiles to be confirmed,” a message on the Twitter account of the government’s disaster operations centre said late on Monday.
Shortly before noon on Saturday dozens of armed personal belonging to the Somali terrorist organisation laid a siege on the Westgate shopping mall, a shopping district in a high brow area of Nairobi, Kenya, killing 62 people and injuring about 170 others.
“A highly placed military source [said that the] hostage situation had been resolved,” reported Kenya news channel KTN.
“[The operation] was spearheaded by Kenyan defence force which made inroads to the mall where captors were taking cover.”
“All six suspected al-Shabaab militants [have been] killed. The authorities are now combing the mall floor by floor to make sure no explosive devices have been left.”
On Tuesday morning, smoke continued to be visible from the mall, although there were conflicting accounts of the cause. The government said fires were started by the attackers as a diversionary tactic.
“We say the fire was put on by the terrorists to try and distract our activities,” said one official. “But I also hasten to confirm that the fire will be put off shortly.”
Residents familiar with the mall, however, said that the smoke appeared to be coming from the parking lot.
There were conflicting reports about the identity of the attackers, six of whom were reported to have been killed during the siege, and a number of whom were being held in custody.
“We have an idea who these people are, and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world,” said Major General Julius Karanja, the chief of general staff for the Kenyan military. “We also have an idea that this is clearly not a local event.”
Eye witness reports saying a white woman seems to be part of the group of terrorists that attacked the shopping mall on Saturday have led to speculations that Samantha Lewthwaite, the British woman suspected of masterminding a terrorist cell in Kenya’s second largest city of Mombasa, may have taken part in the incident.
The 29 year old is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay, one of the men suspected of being involved in the July 7 2005 bombing incidents across London.
She is also suspected to be involved with Michael Adebolajo in the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.