by Chrispinus Omar and Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's military authorities confirmed early Monday that a siege to rescue hostages still holed up in the Westgate mall after terrorist attacks on Saturday may to come to an end soon as death toll rose to 68.
Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna said they have been able to rescue most of the people from the shopping, noting that no more than 10 hostages are left in the building.
"Most of the hostages have been released and KDF has taken control of most parts of the building. We believe there are no more than 10 hostages remaining inside the building," Oguna told Xinhua by telephone early Monday.
Heavy gunfire could be heard from inside the shopping mall early Monday where the terrorists are still holding a few hostages. It was difficult to ascertain what was going on as the area has been sealed off by the security forces conducting the operation.
Oguna said four Kenyan soldiers were rushed to the hospital for treatment after sustaining minor injuries as they tried to secure hostages during the operation.
"Our four KDF soldiers sustained minor injuries during the rescue operation but we have confined the gunmen to one location. Most of them were dehydrated and suffering from shock. We are looking for a speedy conclusion of the operation," he added.
So far, two French nationals, two Canadians, three Britons, one Chinese and one Ghanaian are among the victims of the attack. Nine more bodies were removed from the mall on Sunday night.
The intensive operation came as militants warned via Twitter feed that the security forces' attempt to roof land will complicate the lives of the hostages.
"Kenyan forces who have just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardizing the lives of hostages," the militants said as they rule out negotiations over hostages being held by the terrorists.
Meanwhile, world and regional leaders have come out strongly to support Kenya following the terrorist attack in Nairobi.
U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Camerom, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have condemned the terror attack and offered to provide any assistance that Kenya required.
A statement from President Uhuru Kenyatta's office said the leaders assured that they will continue backing the government and the people of Kenya in their efforts to defeat terrorism in all its manifestation.
Regional leaders - President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia voiced their solidarity with Kenya. The regional leaders said they stood ready to offer any help that Kenya requires at this difficult time.
Messages of support and solidarity from the rest of Africa were conveyed by the Dean of African Diplomatic Corps and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Kenya, Kelbert Nkomani.
Nkomani said Deputy President William Ruto's wish to join the rest of Kenyans in mourning those who lost their lives in the Westgate terror attack should be granted by the ICC.
The ambassador, speaking on behalf of all African envoys accredited to Kenya, expressed hope that the perpetrators of the heinous act will be made to pay for their crime.
"We thank especially our neighbors from the East African region for firmly standing with us during this difficult time," President Kenyatta said.
He assured that the government is working round the clock to ensure the situation is addressed conclusively.