NAIROBI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Monday confirmed its security forces have killed two terrorists as the battle to rescue the few remaining hostages gains momentum after more than 30 hours of operation.
Cabinet Secretary in charge of Internal Security Joseph Ole Lenku said the terrorists were killed early Monday in the operation, adding that the rescue team is gaining advantage.
"We are certain that more hostages will be rescued, our officers are gaining control of the building. Most hostages have been rescued and the process of evacuating hostages has gone on very well," Lenku told a news conference in Nairobi.
He also confirmed 62 deaths and cautioned the public to desist from giving misleading information.
"So far, 62 deaths have been confirmed. This is the correct figure. We have heightened security at all entries we can certainly say the country is secured," Lenku said.
The government official said the black smoke billowing out of the Westgate mall was a diversion tactics started by the attackers who wanted to scare away the rescue team.
"The smoke you are seeing on the screens is because mattresses have been set on fire by the attackers to distract our efforts our forces are in control of the security situation," Lenkuy told journalists in Nairobi.
The thick smoke billowed from the third floor of the shopping mall as heavy gunfire broke out following an explosion.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo confirmed that the security forces were trying to gain access from the rooftop of the Westgate mall, saying the forces were making advantage of the Islamist militants.
"Thumbs up to our multi-agency team, we have just managed to rescue some hostages. We are increasingly gaining advantage of the attackers," Kimaiyo said via his Twitter account.
"As we intensify our operations, we urge the public, to stay away from Westgate and its environs for their own safety," he added as ambulances were seen rushing to the mall.
Speaking to journalists, Lenku said the government's resolve to save the country has never been higher. "The country is in our hands," he said and clarified that the attackers are all male. "All the terrorists were men, some disguised as women," he said.
Chief of Defense Force General Julius Karangi said the terrorists are a "multi national collection," but assured the country that the soldiers have taken control of all floors.
"All we are we are asking is that they surrender now, there is no going back. The smoke you saw was a distraction on their part. In actual part, an attempted escape," Karangi said.
"We are fighting global terrorism here. These are international criminals. We have control of all the floors but that doesn't mean that terrorists are not around, they could be hiding we still don't know who the terrorists are, we are doing all we can to get that intelligence," he added.
The military chief confirmed that there were reinforcement coming in to fight the terrorists, while demanding the immediate surrender of the terrorists.