Monday morning explosions rocked an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya as the Kenyan army launched attacks in an attempt to end a 3-day standoff.
Masked gunmen opened fire in the Westgate Mall Saturday in one of the most deadly terrorist attacks in East Africa since Al Qaeda blew up two U.S. embassies in 1998.
At least 62 are reported dead and nearly 200 wounded in the mall that caters primarily to wealthy Kenyans and foreign residents. For years the mall has been a prime terror target because of the number of Israeli-owned establishments there and its Western customers.
Local security officials say Israeli forces have joined Kenyans to end the siege.
Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked militant group based in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for the rampage. Throwing grenades and firing machine guns at shoppers, the group targeted non-Muslims claiming the attack is retaliation for Kenyan military actions against Islamists in Somalia.
They have since been holed up in the mall with an unknown number of hostages. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says he has lost family members in the attack. He also vowed to bring the terrorists to justice.
“Let me make it clear. We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime,” Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation late Saturday.
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) is providing a 24-hour operational center at Visa Oshwal Centre adjacent to Nakumatt UKAY just a few metres from Westgate Shopping Mall. The main services being provided include first aid, triage, fire safety, tracing and restoration of family links and psychosocial counseling.
Red Cross volunteers from several northern branches have arrived in Nairobi to assist with various aspects of the operation.
Through a Twitter post, Al-Shabab maintains among the attackers are Americans from Kansas City and Minneapolis.
As of this report witnesses say heavy smoke and gunfire is at the scene.
Sonoma Christian Home supports Naomi’s Village, a child rescue home, located in Kenya. Though these disasters may seem worlds away, they are hitting very close to home. God’s family has no borders, no boundaries. We are all linked and distance means nothing. SCH asks that you join us in praying for our fellow Christians in Kenya as they face extreme persecution and terror.
Find more ways to be praying for our Global Christian Community as well as our country, Deadlock Forces Government Shutdown
Feature Image Jo-J0: Courtesy of Naomi’s Village