Kenya's Red Cross says at least 20 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded when gunmen opened fire in a shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi. Some survivors say gunmen started shooting indiscriminately and throwing grenades as they launched their attack.
Hundreds of Kenyan security forces were battling with armed gunmen who took dozens of people hostage in an up market mall frequented by foreigners. Dozens of people remained trapped inside the mall.
In an interview with local media, Kenya’s secretary of communication and state house spokesman Manoah Esipisu called for calm as security forces attempted to rescue people inside the mall.
“There should be no panic we have people who know what to do, how to do in here. They are dealing with that situation," said Esipisu. "We want people to remain as calm as possible, not to be alarmed whatsoever and to allow the security agents and other rescue people to do their job. This is the time to be calm and to let people equipped to do this job to get the job done.”
Armed robberies are common in the capital, Nairobi, but the city has also faced a series of grenade attacks since its troops crossed into Somalia to fight the militant group al-Shabab in 2011.
The Westgate Mall has been identified as one the key places gunmen or terrorist groups could target since the mall is frequented by Westerners. People have raised concerns about the level of security provided at such locations with thousands of people coming to shop.
Esipisu says security at the mall will be reviewed after the rescue mission is complete.
“I wouldn’t want to join that group of people who speculate about everything," he said. "What I can say is that there is a situation that now we are dealing with and aftermath of this situation obviously there will be need to review security arrangements and what needs to be done to deal with this type of situation in the future.”
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the shootings