Published on 21 Sep 2013 Sections , ,

Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for ‘brutal’ Nairobi attack

Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the Nairobi shopping centre attack that has left at least 30 people dead. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague calls the incident “callous, cowardly and brutal.”

The al-Qaeda linked militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on the Westgate shopping centre, and claimed its militants have killed more than 100 people.

Soldiers are still inside the Westgate shopping mall battling to flush out gunmen and evacuate survivors caught up in a gun and grenade attack.

Kenya’s Red Cross has said at least 30 people have died in the attack, which targeted non-Muslims inside the upmarket shopping centre.

The fighting is still going on so we assume there will be more wounded. Abbas Gullet, Kenya Red Cross

Gunmen stormed the popular mall in central Nairobi on Saturday afternoon, throwing grenades and opening fire on crowds of shoppers leaving 30 people dead and at least 60 injured.

Somali group al-Shabaab confirmed to Channel 4 News directly that they were behind the attack. They also posted the following message on their Twitter feed on Saturday evening. The group said it had killed “over 100” inside the shopping centre, and said the attack was “retributive justice”.

It later posted on Twitter that only “kuffar”, ie. non-Muslims, were targeted in the attack, and that Muslims had been “escorted out”.

Kenyan security forces have arrested one of the gunmen, the Kenyan Presidency said on Twitter, whilst several other assailants are said to be pinned down.

The arrested gunman died from bullet wounds, Kenya’s presidency says.

Al-Shabaab also said it had made contact with the “mujahadin” militants inside the shopping centre, and said that they were “still fighting”. It said the group would not negotiate with the kenyan government.

‘There will be more’

Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Gullet told Channel 4 News he believes there are 25 dead and at least 60 injured, but he expects the number of wounded to climb as soldiers continue to battle attackers in the main Nakumatt supermarket.

“The fighting is still going on so we assume there will be more wounded,” Mr Gullet said.

It was a very busy Saturday at Westgate, with an event outside attracting large numbers of visitors. Mr Gullet said the dead have been removed from the site and taken to nearby mortuaries while soldiers and rescue teams search for people hiding in the mall’s many shops.

At least 15 people have been killed when gunmen opened fire in a Nairobi shopping centre (Picture: Reuters)

The Somali militant group vowed in 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight them. They reiterated their grievances on Saturday.

It is not yet know whether Britons have been affected, but the Foreign Office released the following statement:

“We are urgently looking into the shooting in a shopping centre in Nairobi, and whether any British nationals have been caught up in the incident. We stand ready to provide consular assistance if required.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said British nationals are undoubtedly caught up in the attack, and that we should be prepared for this.

Earlier on Saturday he said: “We are aware of a major security incident underway at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi. We are in close contact with the Kenyan authorities on the ground in Kenya and at ministerial level in the United Kingdom.

“The prime consideration at present is the welfare of members of the public caught up in this incident.”

The statement said that concerned British nationals should monitor FCO travel advice and contact 020 7008 0000.