World Bulletin/News Desk
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed late Tuesday that Nairobi's Westgate mall attack has left 61 civilians and six security officers dead, declaring three days of national mourning.
"In one accord, we have triumphed," Kenyatta told a press conference, flanked by his top security and government aides.
He said five of the attackers were shot dead by security forces during the operation, while eleven others had been arrested and were in custody.
Kenyatta said preliminary intelligence had indicated that they were three Americans and a Briton among the attackers.
He added that security authorities were still working to conclusively establish the nationalities of all the attackers.
The president said three of the four floors of the Westgate mall had collapsed, trapping a number of civilians and some of the attackers.
He added that the operation, which includes removing the trapped bodies, would go on.
Kenyatta said 62 of the injured had been operated on and were still in hospital, asserting that a comprehensive count will be given after security teams complete the operation.
Shortly before noon on Saturday, heavily-armed attackers entered the Westgate mall, located not far from Nairobi's Central Business District.
They shot at guards manning a car park before storming the building, both through the main entrance and via an underground opening.
The Shabab militant group in Somalia has claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a response to Kenyan military intervention in Somalia.
With a solemn and pained look on his face, President Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning.
He pledged that his government will offer support to all affected families "to cope with the grief and loss."
He paid tribute to Kenyans for standing together at a difficult time and showing a "wonderful example of unity."
"You came out in ways that exceeded the wildest of expectations. We have been brave and united," he boasted.
Kenyatta announced that as a demonstration of generosity, Kenyans and other well-wishers had not only donated blood but had also raised over 62 million Kenya Shillings (roughly $738,000) in three days.
Kenyatta congratulated Kenyan forces for their sacrifice and contribution in dealing with the attack, which he described as "delicate and dangerous."
He also saluted all national leaders, noting that they all set aside their political differences in the hour of need.
"Deep inside, we are one and no one among us will be blamed for dividing Kenya" at that difficult time, he added.
Kenyatta, his bitter rival former premier Raila Odinga and other opposition leaders came together in a show of solidarity on Sunday, visiting the injured in hospital and addressing a joint press conference to condemn the attack and appeal for national unity.
The president called for continued support and joint efforts in dealing with the terrorist menace, urging Kenyans to remain united and caring.
"We must live as one tolerant society."
Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2013, 22:42