Two Indians, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed in the ghastly terror attack on a shopping mall in Kenya, an incident which was strongly condemned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who reminded the world community about the need for concerted effort to control such mindless violence. At least 59 people were killed and nearly 200 injured as Somali Islamist militants attacked for the second consecutive day.
Four Indians, including two women and a girl, were injured in the attack. There were conflicting reports about the number of militants with a minister saying there were 10 to 15 heavily armed men while some of the witnesses said they had seen four men in black, their heads covered in scarves.
It is not known how many civilians remain trapped there – either as hostages or hiding from the militants, Kenya’s interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku said.
As the gunfire continued on Sunday, troops have managed to evacuate over 1,000 people from the part Israeli-owned Westgate centre after the masked militants from Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Al Shebab group launched the assault on Saturday.
“We still have hostages in the mall, and this makes the operation delicate. We have 59 people who have been killed so far,” Lenku said.
Two Indians, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed and four other community members injured in the attack, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said in New Delhi.
While one of the victims 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan was working with a pharma firm, the boy Paramshu Jain was the son of a manager of the local Bank of Baroda branch, he said.
India’s mission in Nairboi is in touch with the families of the deceased, the spokesperson said. There are two Canadians, two French citizens and a South Korean among the foreign casualties.
The interior minister said between 10 to 15 attackers were still in the building and it is not known how many civilians remain trapped there – either as hostages or hiding from the militants.
“We are doing everything reasonably possible to make sure that the hostages who are still in the building come out safely,” he said.
More than 175 people had been taken to hospital, he added.
The militants group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Twitter account.
“The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today (Saturday) at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf,” the Islamist militants said after which its Twitter account was suspended.
“What Kenyans are witnessing at #Westgate is retributive justice for crimes committed by their military,” the group said.
“Kenya will not get peace unless they pull their military out of Somalia,” Shebab’s spokesman Ali Mohamoud Rage said in a radio address.
The militants said the carnage was in direct retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.
There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011.
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said insurgents are terrorist cowards and that he had “personally lost very close family members in the Westgate attack”. addressing a large gathering at village Bhanderi of Baroda constituency on September 22, 2013. Member of Parliament, Mr Arvind Sharma also seen in the picture.