NAIROBI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan soldiers said late Monday they have killed three terrorists and injured a few others as they took control of the entire shopping mall in the capital Nairobi.
The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) said 10 more bodies have been retrieved from the building in the past 24 hours as the standoff with the Al-Qaida linked Somali gunmen claimed 62 lives.
"Chances of any terrorists sneaking and escaping are very slim. KDF troops have sealed all possible escape routes," the military said in a statement.
The military has also appealed to Kenyans to remain calm and report any suspicious looking individuals or activities to the nearest security agencies of the government as they continue with the operation at the besieged Westgate mall.
Saturday's attack came 16 years after the 1998 twin blasts at the U. S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Somali militants of Al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall, saying the attack was part of retaliation for the cross-border incursion by Kenyan soldiers in October 2011.
Westgate is a popular shopping center frequented mostly by rich Kenyans and foreigners.It is a multi-storey building with a basement and rooftop parking that also houses the mainstream department stores, banks, phone centers and electronic shops, boutiques, coffee shops, movie theatre and party/amusement areas.
The emergency rescue phase has been running over 36 hours, with 62 confirmed fatalities, 49 missing persons and 175 injured victims, who were sent to hospitals for specialized care and psychosocial support.
The KDF said they have occupied every level of the four-story Westgate Mall, declaring the operation to flush out the gunmen and rescue those held captive may end soon.
The statement comes as thick smoke continues to billow out of the building four hours after a fire broke out amid sporadic bursts of gunfire and explosions.
The KDF said fire which has engulfed the building and its environs was started in the building by the terrorists to distract the ongoing operation, but noted that it was being managed by fire fighters from different agencies.
"KDF has dominated all floors of Westgate Mall building. Troops are now concentrating on clearing the building. Regrettably, 11 KDF soldiers have been injured in this operation and are receiving medical attention at the Defense Forces Memorial Hospital," the statement said.
According to the KDF, over 200 civilians have been rescued with 65 receiving treatment in various hospitals.
"Unfortunately 62 have been confirmed dead. KDF expresses sympathy to the injured and condoles to the families that have lost their loved ones in this attack," the KDF said.
Cabinet Secretary in charge of Internal Security Joseph Ole Lenku had earlier said on Monday that security has also been beefed up along the border areas with Ethiopia and Somalia.
He said the security apparatus in the border regions have been ordered to scale up their security check and ensure that no one gets in or out of the country following the attack.
All major hotels, restaurants, bars and public service vehicle operators across the East African country have been directed to enhance their security arrangements including screening visitors.
NAIROBI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Monday assured tourists of increased security following a terror attack at one of the popular shopping malls in Nairobi on at the weekend that has so far claimed 69 lives.
Cabinet Secretary of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Jepkosgei Kandie assured Kenyans and foreigners that the government will continue to be on high alert to deal with and avert any security threats posed by terrorist elements in the country. Full story