by Chrispinus Omar, Christine Lagat, Peter Mutai, Chris Mgidu and Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in an attack by gunmen on a popular upmarket shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday rose to 39, according to Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Addressing to the nation late Saturday, Kenyatta said at least 39 people were killed and more than 150 were wounded in the attack, adding that "the despicable perpetrators of this cowardly act hoped to intimidate, divide and cause despondency amongst Kenyans. "
He said Kenya has overcome terrorist attacks before and will defeat them again. The government stands ready to defeat internal and external aggression, he said.
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) earlier put the death toll at 30. The secretary general Abbas Gullet told Xinhua that rescue operation is still underway, expressing fears that there would be more casualties since some of the shoppers are still holed up in the mall. However, Kenya's interior ministry is not sure whether there are hostages inside the mall.
KRCS officials also told Xinhua that currently there are no Chinese casualties in the attack. The Chinese Embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi said that the preliminary findings showed that there are no Chinese casualties so far in the attack.RETALIATION
Somalia's militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility of the attack, saying in its twitter account "HSM Press Office" that "The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar inside their own turf."
"Since our last contact, the Mujahideen inside the mall confirmed to @HSM_Press that they killed over 100 Kenyan kuffar & battle is ongoing," the group said.
"HSM has on numerous occasions warned the Kenyan government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia would have severe consequences." "The Kenyan government, however, turned a deaf ear to our repeated warnings and continued to massacre innocent Muslims in Somalia," the group said.
"By land, air and sea, #Kenyan forces invaded our Muslim country, killing hundreds of Muslims in the process and displacing thousands more," the group said, adding "The attack at # WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyans invaders."