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Kenyatta: ‘We’ve been hurt, but siege is over’
September 24, 2013, 7:36 pm

Kenyatta said there may still be people trapped under three collapsed floors in the mall [Xinhua]

Kenyatta said there may still be people trapped under three collapsed floors in the mall [Xinhua]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced late on Tuesday an end to the military operation to route out Al-Shabab gunmen who seized the Westgate Mall on Saturday, as speculation arose in the media that one of the attackers may have been a British woman nicknamed the “white widow”.

“We have ashamed and defeated our attackers, that part of our task is completed,” Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation.

“Our losses are immense,” he said. “We have been badly hurt, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed. We have defeated our enemies and showed the whole world what we can accomplish.”

On Saturday at noon Nairobi time, 10 to 15 heavily armed attackers stormed the Westgate Mall and began shooting non-Muslims, according to survivor eyewitness reports.

The Kenyan military faced off in a 60-hour siege which ended on Tuesday leaving 61 civilians and six security officers dead, and almost 200 injured. Five of the attackers were killed and another 11 taken into custody, Kenyatta said. A number of the killed civilians were from Canada, India, the US, China, and Ghana, among others.

The Kenyan president said that three floors in the mall had collapsed trapping a number of people. It is unknown whether attackers are among those trapped, but the national Red Cross says that 63 people are listed as missing.

Earlier, South Africa’s Home Affairs Department said it was conducting a “thorough investigation” into media reports that one of the Westgate Mall attackers killed in Nairobi, may have been a British woman using a fake South African passport.

The department’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa told reporters that South Africa is working with Kenyan officials to get a copy of the passport and to determine whether it was actually found on the body of one of the slain attackers.

The media began to speculate that the woman may have been Samantha Lewthwaite, a widow of one of the suicide bomb attackers in the 2005 London underground attacks, shortly after Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed announced that two or three American men and a British woman were among the suspected al-Qaeda linked Al-Shebab attackers.

Mamoepa told reporters that Pretoria had not yet received an official communique from Kenyan officials.

In his presidential address Tuesday night, Kenyatta said that none of the identities of the attackers had yet been confirmed.

Source: Agencies