|Interior ministry Secretary Joseph ole Lenku , Chief of Kenya Defence Forces General Julius Karangi and Secretary for Defence Raychelle Omamo addresses a press conference Monday. KDF took over the control of the building Monday night. [Photo: Standard]|
By Cyrus Ombati and James Mbaka
KENYA: The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Monday midnight took over the control the entire Westgate Mall and neutralised all the six militants.
A tweet from the Interior ministry @InteriorKE said Kenyan forces were now in charge of the Westgate situation and it was unlikely any hostages remained inside.
"Our forces are combing the mall floor by floor looking for anyone left behind. We believe all hostages have been released," said the tweet.
A statement from the Department of Defence said 11 personnel had been shot and wounded by terrorists in the operation.
“Chances of any terrorists sneaking out and escaping are very slim. KDF troops have sealed all possible escape routes,” said the statement.
And Chief of Kenya Defence Forces General Julius Karangi warned the terrorists who have occupied Westgate Mall to surrender on the third day of the siege.
Gen Karangi attributed the thick smoke billowing from the building to a “distraction by the gunmen attempting to escape”.
“If they wish they can now surrender because we have no intention whatsoever of going backwards,” Gen Karangi warned Monday.
He said KDF will not give in to desperate and cowardly acts of intimidation to back down on the war against terrorists in the region.
Speaking during a press briefing on the Westgate situation, Karangi warned Al-Shabaab that KDF’s spirit and resilience to fight terrorism was stronger than ever before.
Karangi said that Kenya was fighting “global terrorists” in Westgate Mall, confirming that the attackers were from many countries around the globe.
He said Al-Shabaab attackers were from all over the world and not just Somalia, where the group is based.
But Karangi said it’s too early to reveal the identities of the attackers, saying such a move would jeopardise the security operation.
Interior minister Joseph ole Lenku said two of the terrorists had been shot dead.
At least 62 people have been killed and more than 170 left injured since the assault at the mall began on Saturday.