Update: Kenya Will Remain Resolute Depsite Mall Shootout- Odinga
Kenya’s opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the gunmen were still holding hostages and controlling parts of the mall as he urged Kenyans to put aside partisan politics and stand as a nation to stamp out terrorism.
“We have been told the numbers cannot be ascertained but there are quite a number of people who are still held there hostage, particularly on the first floor and in the basement area where I understand that the terrorists are still in charge,” Odinga said.
Odinga said he hoped ‘normalcy’ will return.
“We know that our forces are equal to the task and that normalcy will return back to our country,” Odinga said.
The assault was the biggest single attack in Kenya since al Qaeda’s East Africa cell bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing more than 200 people.
In 2002, the same militant cell attacked an Israeli-owned hotel on the coast and tried to shoot down an Israeli jet in a coordinated strike.
The former Prime Minister will be joining President Uhuru Kenyatta in a nationwide address by 3 p.m.
Al-Shabaab Claims Responsibility
The death toll in the mall attack rose to 59 and security forces are trying to ensure hostages come out safely, a day after the assault by Somali Islamist gunmen.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters that the government believed there were 10 to 15 attackers, and their identities are being investigated.
According to the BBC, Al Shabaab, a militant Somali group that has declared allegiance to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on the Westgate mall.
Lenku said while addressing newsmen said security forces are doing everything reasonably possible to make sure that the hostages who are still in the building come out safely.
According to report, more people had been evacuated from the mall, as many of those hospitalised had now been discharged.
The security forces had been able to “isolate” the attackers, but so far no communication had been established yet with them.
175 people have been taken to hospital and more than 1,000 people had been evacuated from the shopping mall.