Attackers defeated in mall siege, Kenya's president says
September 24th, 2013
08:07 PM ET

Attackers defeated in mall siege, Kenya's president says

After four days of bloody mayhem, Kenyan security forces have "ashamed and defeated" the terrorist gunmen who had besieged Nairobi's Westgate Mall, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday.

In a nationally televised address, Kenyatta declared his country "bloodied but unbowed" after the attack.

"We confronted this evil without flinching, confronted our deep grief and pain, and conquered it," he said.

Five terrorists were killed in the fighting, Kenyatta said. Eleven other people had been arrested over possible connections to the attack.

The victory came at a cost: at least 61 civilian deaths, six dead security officers and some 175 injuries. Sixty-two people remain hospitalized, he said. The Kenya Red Cross was reporting 62 deaths.

The death toll may yet rise. The Red Cross said 65 people remain unaccounted for, and Kenyatta said three floors of the mall had collapsed, trapping some bodies.

He did not explain the cause of the collapse, but fires and explosions had been noted at the upscale venue throughout parts of the last two days.

'Full accountability'

Attention now turns to investigating the siege, the bloodiest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

Kenyatta said forensic teams were working Tuesday at the mall to find out more about the attack and its perpetrators, believed to be members of the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab terror group.

Among their tasks would be determining the nationalities of the attackers, who had claimed to count Americans and other Westerners among their ranks. Kenyatta said he could not confirm reports that two or three Americans and a British woman were among the attackers.

U.S. law enforcement sources said they were scouring intelligence reports for evidence of a U.S. connection, but a senior U.S. official said Monday the claim was looking less solid as they continued to investigate.

The attackers include a woman killed early in the siege, a senior Kenyan government official told CNN. However, the official said, it is "impossible" based on the government's photo evidence (and before a forensics examination is complete) to determine if this woman is British-born Samantha Lewthwaite, as some have speculated.

Kenyatta promised "full accountability" for the "mindless destruction, deaths, pain, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family."
"These cowards will meet justice as will their accomplices and patrons wherever they are," he vowed, pledging to work with international allies in a global fight against terrorism.

Kenya is a key U.S. partner in battling Islamist terrorism and has also contributed military forces to an African Union expedition to fight Al-Shabaab forces in Somalia.

It was in retribution for that mission that Al-Shabaab claimed it was staging the Westgate attack.

Kenyatta's address came at tend of a two-day stretch during which Kenyan authorities frequently claimed control over the mall despite continued sporadic gunfire and explosions coming from it.

Tuesday morning, security forces said they were making final sweeps of the mall and dealing with explosives left behind by terrorists.

The siege

The harrowing episode began midday Saturday in Nairobi when some 10 to 15 gunmen stormed the mall, shooting indiscriminately, according to witness accounts.

Witnesses said the gunmen went from store to store, shooting people, and then took hostages.

Mwagi Dorcas told CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday that she hid behind luggage in the mall's ground-floor grocery store, memorizing a Muslim prayer sent to her by family in a desperate bid to save her life should attackers find her. Al-Shabaab and some witnesses have said the attackers quizzed shoppers about their faith before deciding whether to kill them, releasing Muslims and targeting many others.

"I was praying the whole time," she said. "I believed that, you know, if I got out, I would be rescued."

Some were spared despite not being Muslim. In one remarkable case reported by The Sun newspaper in Britain, terrorists spared a 4-year-old boy who confronted them, saying, "You're a very bad man."


Most of the known dead civilians are Kenyans, authorities said. Six British citizens, two French nationals, two Indians and two Canadians, including a diplomat, also died, their governments said.

Those killed include:

• Dutch national Elif Yavuz, a senior vaccines researcher for the Clinton Health Access Initiative based in Tanzania. Yavuz was pregnant and expecting her first child in October, said Julio Frenk, dean of faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly," the Clinton family said in a statement.

• Yavuz's husband, Australian-British architect Ross Langdon, who moved to Nairobi to build sustainable architecture for Africa, volunteering to build hospitals and clinics free of charge.

• Kofi Awoonor, a renowned African poet, author and Ghanian statesman. Awoonor earned his doctorate from New York's Stony Brook University and was a professor of literature there in the 1970s.

• A nephew of Kenya's president along with the nephew's fiancee.

• A Peruvian doctor, Juan Jesus Ortiz, who had previously worked for the U.N. Children's Fund and lived in Kenya doing consulting work.

• Sridhar Natarajan, an Indian national and employee of a local pharmaceutical firm, and 8-year-old Paramshu Jain, the son of a bank branch manager, CNN sister network CNN-IBN reported, citing officials in India.

• Roula Adatia-Sood, who was seven months pregnant, a colleague at East FM Radio station, Seema Manji, told CNN. The radio station was hosting a children's cooking competition at the time of the attack.

Kenyan unity

In his speech Tuesday, Kenyatta praised Kenyans for turning out in overwhelming numbers to donate blood, for contributing money to victims and for helping in countless other ways.

He said their example proved to the world the attack was a failure despite the immense loss of life.

"The incident which we now put behind was certainly not welcome," he said. "Yet it has strengthened us and renewed our resolve to live as one strong, open, stable, democratic and prosperous republic where peoples of all races cultures and faiths pursue happiness together.

"Our attackers wished to destroy the essential character of our society," he said. "They failed. Kenya endured. Kenya endures."

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Wow! The violence doesn't stop. Someone just bombed the Police Administration Building in Columbus, Oh.

    September 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

      Now its to have been an explosion. No one hurt so far. Building is being evacuated. No other details. Never mind CNN, FOX and ABC are on it.

      September 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nice Try.

      Just watched both and Fox isn't on it either.

      September 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cant Reid (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

      Yes. Fox did cover it. And stop deleting my post.

      September 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Who's Reid?

      September 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

      Banasy: Exactly!

      September 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Lol, JF.

      September 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. khadar goray hargaisa

    wallhi kenya have no any police any army 4 days walaahi problem SHAME ON YUO KENYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    September 25, 2013 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maggie

    Five jihadists slaying 61 and wounding 175 with several days of publicity terrorizing the poulace, and the Kenyan government spins that as success? I think the jihadi martyrs achieved their intended objectives.

    September 25, 2013 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    I know right @ Maggie. And for some reason the first sentence keeps screaming at me "we have ASHAMED and defeated the terrorist gunman"! Wth does that mean, we ashamed them? Sheesh! I highly doubt that!

    September 25, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    "We have ashamed..."? Dis they guilt them into giving up? What an odd choice of words.

    September 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    The terrorists of AlShabab had stated that this was a revenge for kenyan attack on Somalia and i think@Maggie is right.
    The world left Somalia to starve, rot and anarchy to rule now for 20 yrs. What did we expect Somalia to produce?

    September 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. landykandy

    my neighbor's step-mother makes $81 hourly on the computer. She has been fired for 6 months but last month her income was $17241 just working on the computer for a few hours. linked here.....

    September 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |