There were reports of “large explosions” and gunfire as Kenyan forces continued their operation to free the remaining hostages in Nairobi's Westgate mall. In the three days since the attack began, 62 people
David Kimaiyo, Kenya's Inspector General of the National Police, tweeted that Kenyan forces were able to rescue several hostages during the most recent operation, nothing that “very few are remaining.”
Thumbs up to our multi-agency team, we have just managed to rescue some hostages. We're increasingly gaining advantage of the attackers. IG— David Kimaiyo (@IGkimaiyo) September 23, 2013
The explosions were reportedly caused by Kenyan police attempting to force their way into the building. "It is us who caused the explosion, we are trying to get in through the roof,” a security official told Reuters. Another Kenyan official told Reuters that much of the smoke was from militants burning mattresses inside the mall.
Speaking to the New York Times on Monday, Col. Cyrus Oguna, a spokesman for the Kenyan Defense Force, said the building was mostly secure. “Most areas of the building are now in the control of K.D.F .,” he said. “We know the number [of hostages] cannot be more than 10 right now.”
Al-Shabab, the group that has claimed responsibility for the attack, disputed Oguna's account, reportedly writing on Twitter: "As the operation gathers momentum inside #Westgate, the Mujahideen are for the 3rd day still in full control of the situation on the ground."
And Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, al-Shabab's spokesman, said earlier attempts at a rescue were unsuccessful.
"Israelis and Kenyan forces have tried to enter Westgate by force but they could not," Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in an online audio statement. "The mujahedeen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force."
The Red Cross puts the official death toll from the attack at 69, though Kenyan officials say only 62 were killed. (UPDATE: The Red Cross has changed their count to 62). The Red Cross also said at least 63 people have been reported missing.
[Image via AP]