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KonkNaija Media | May 4, 2016

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Kenyan’s Mall Siege Finally Over: 61 Civilians And 6 Soldiers Dead, 65 People Still Remain Unaccounted For

Kenya’s President tonight announced that his country had ‘ashamed and defeated’ its attackers following the siege on a Nairobi mall that has left 61 civilians and six security officers dead while 65 persons still remain unaccounted for..

Three floors of the Westgate shopping centre collapsed towards the end of the operation by security forces, five alleged terrorists have been killed and there were still at least three bodies in the rubble.

Uhuru Kenyatta – who also declared three days of national mourning – said: ‘Fellow Kenyans, we have been badly hurt and feel great pain and loss – but we have been brave, united and strong.’

He said there were 11 alleged terrorists now in custody, adding: ‘Kenya has stared down great evil and triumphed… We have shamed and defeated our attackers. That part of our task was completed.’

For clarity, Mr Kenyatta said the attack had left 240 casualties, including 61 dead civilians and six of his security forces, adding that five terrorists were killed and another 11 suspects are in custody.

He added: ‘I promise that we shall have full accountability for the mindless destruction, deaths, pain, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family. These cowards will meet justice.’

It came after police said today that Kenyan forces were defusing explosive devices set up by Islamist militants inside the shopping mall where extremists claimed to be still holding hostages.

No details were released about the nature and size of the explosives, but it had added an extra dangerous element to the siege, which dragged on for more than 72 hours.

Kenyan police said on Twitter that the mall was ‘under the full control of govt (government) forces and we are carrying out a sweep to ensure (it’s) safe for everyone.’

But just as police stressed they were in charge of the situation this morning, two senior Kenyan officials told CNN that several gunmen, including snipers, were still inside the four-storey complex.

Al Shabaab also said earlier that its militants were still holding out in the Westgate centre and their hostages were still alive.

Sporadic gunfire at the upmarket Westgate mall broke out again at dawn hours.

It came after officials claimed Kenyan troops had wrested back ‘control’ of the sprawling complex from Somalia’s Al Shebaab insurgents, who are said to include Americans and a British woman.

At least 61 shoppers and staff have been killed and more than 200 wounded in the siege, but concerns are high that the toll may yet rise.

Al Shabaab has been boasting about ‘countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall’. Six Kenyan soldiers have also died from wounds sustained during the siege.

Al Shabaab said its militants were still holding out in the Westgate centre and hostages they were holding were still alive.

‘There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen (fighters) are still holding their ground #Westgate,’ it said on a Twitter feed purportedly registered to the Islamist group.

‘The hostages who were being held by the Mujahideen inside #Westgate are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive.’

It later claimed that all hostages were ‘strapped with remote control bombs.’

An overnight silence outside the large, upmarket Westgate mall was broken at daybreak with a loud burst of gunfire from inside, suggesting the complex had not yet been fully secured. A lone military chopper circled above.

‘Our forces are combing the mall floor by floor looking for anyone left behind. We believe all hostages have been released,’ the Ministry of Interior said on Twitter early today adding his forces were ‘in control ‘of the building.

Despite Kenyan government assurances of success, another explosion and more gunfire could be heard coming from the mall at around 6:30am local time today, reporters at the scene said.