World Bulletin/News Desk
Kenyan citizens of different religious backgrounds, including Muslims, were united Sunday in condemning the ongoing hostage-taking saga in a Nairobi mall.
"The attack is barbaric and satanic," Hamiza Saja, a gender activist, told Anadolu Agency.
"It is a challenge to the government and all of us Kenyans," she asserted.
Saja said that as a Muslim, she was aware that Islam abhors acts of violence.
She insisted that the attackers should not be associated with the religion.
"The attackers should be punished irrespective of their religion or race," Saja said.
"My prayers are for the injured and we hope the government will rescue those still trapped in the building."
Kenyan Interior Ministry Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku confirmed Sunday that 59 people have been killed and 175 injured so far in an ongoing hostage-taking saga in a Nairobi mall.
Heavily-armed attackers entered the Westgate Mall, not far from the Central Business District, shortly before noon local time.
They shot at guards manning a car park before storming the building both through the main entrance and an underground opening, according to witnesses.
The attackers were still holed up inside the building by mid-day Sunday, with a number of shoppers still believed to be held hostage or trapped inside.
Al-Shabab militant group in Somalia has claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a reaction to Kenyan military intervention in Somalia.
Duncan Chando, a social worker, condemned the attack.
"We are all united in condemning this act of terror and as you can see we have all come out together as Kenyans irrespective of ethnicity, religion or race to pray and offer support to our brothers and sisters who have suffered in the attack," he told AA.
Aggrey Omondi, a CSO official who spoke to Anadolu Agency on phone from Ugunja town in Nyanza, Western Kenya, agreed.
"I condemn the attack," he said.
"I salute our security forces for the rescue work and other Kenyans for turning out at various hospitals to donate blood," added Omondi.
By 2:00 pm local time, the Red Cross confirmed that at least 5 more hostages had been freed from inside the building.
Kenyan security forces were still inside and more army trucks could be seen arriving at the scene.
Esther Nthusi, a Nairobi resident, said they spent the day in church praying for the victims and the families of those killed.
"We have lost two people from our Umoja Estate, a couple who were due to wed in December," Ms Nthusi told AA.
"We are very sad that we have lost such young people. We hope the government will rescue the remaining hostages and arrest the attackers."
Rahel, an Ethiopian national working in Kenya, also condemned the attack.
"My deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones, and also wish quick recovery to the injured," she told AA.
Bhasir Mohamed, a Kenyan Muslim, dismissed the attack as "heinous and cowardly act by terrorists."
He insisted that the targeting of women and children runs counter to the Islamic teachings of peace.
"I urge fellow Kenyans to remain tolerant and live together as brothers and sisters and condemn this attempt to cause religious strife."
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