Two militants killed, nearly all Kenya mall hostages freed
Almost all the hostages in the Kenyan mall siege have been rescued, Kenyan authorities have said, as black smoke is seen rising and loud blasts heard from inside the mall.
Kenyan security forces appear to have launched an assault on the Westgate shopping complex in the capital Nairobi in an attempt to break the siege there
Kenya’s interior minister said two terrorists were killed in the operation, but did not say if any hostages were harmed or how many were being held.
Earlier blasts were followed by other smaller detonations and volleys of gunfire.
The siege appears to be coming to a head, two days after Somali militants stormed the popular shopping mall, killing up to 59 people.
Tasmanian man Ross Langdon and his Netherlands-born partner Elif Yavuz were among those killed in the brutal attacks.
Earlier, as troops ran into new positions, security official told the Reuters newsagency at the scene: “It is us who caused the explosion; we are trying to get in through the roof.”
A plume of oily black smoke was still pouring from the building after 15 minutes.
A senior officer had said police were “closing in” on the militants after rescuing more trapped people overnight.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku had said “a few” people were still hostage.
“Our disciplined forces… have been extremely careful to find the balance between neutralising the attackers and getting as many people to safety as possible,” he said.
A spokesman for al Shabaab, which has demanded Kenya pull its troops out of neighbouring Somalia, had warned they would kill hostages if Kenyan security forces, who are being assisted by Western and Israeli experts, tried to storm their positions:
“Israelis and Kenyan forces have tried to enter Westgate by force but they could not,” Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in an audio statement posted online.
“The Mujahideen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force.”