Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kenya Presses Assault against Mall Attackers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kenya Presses Assault against Mall Attackers

Article excerpt

NAIROBI, Kenya -

Huge columns of black smoke poured out of a besieged mall in Nairobi today as Kenyan forces moved in for a major assault against heavily armed Islamist militants who stormed the mall Saturday, slaughtering dozens of civilians and taking hostages.

Kenyan forces have been struggling to capture or kill the militants, who are holed up with military-grade weaponry and seem determined to fight to the death. The security forces' tactical operations inside the mall seemed to be intensifying today, with long bursts of gunfire ringing out and several large explosions.

There were conflicting reports on civilian and military deaths and injuries, but it seemed clear that more than 60 people had been killed - including three Britons - and at least 150 injured.

Western security advisers said that three Kenyan commandos had been killed Sunday night while trying to dislodge the attackers, though Kenyan officials have reported only injuries to military forces.

Al-Shabab, a militant group in Somalia that has killed countless civilians with suicide bombs, has claimed responsibility for this attack and boasted of its prowess in a barrage of Twitter messages. The group has said that the attack is retribution for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia, where Kenyan troops have helped drive al-Shabab fighters out of much of the territory they once controlled.

The assault was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaida truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.

One Western security adviser was among those who said other terrorist groups might be involved. "This whole thing seems more advanced than anything the Shabab has ever done," he said.

A confidential United Nations security report described the assault on the mall as two-pronged, with groups of gunmen attacking on different floors simultaneously. …

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