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PRETORIA, September 23. (Itar-Tass). – Latest reports indicate that around 10 people are being held hostage at a Nairobi mall.
Victims of the terrorist attack in Westgate trade center in Nairobi became 69 people; 63 are reported missing, according to today’s reports from Kenyan Red Cross representatives.
Kenyan army command reports that militants of the Ash-Shabaab militant group are still suppressing at least ten hostages. In the past 24 hours, security forces made several attempts to enter the trade center, but were forced to withdraw. As confirmed by the country’s authorities, Israeli and American servicemen are also taking part in the operation.
Eyewitnesses note that military divisions continue to arrive at the site. Local media quotes military sources as saying that ‘the final assault of the building’ may start in the nearest hours.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs has published an official address to the country’s citizens, asking to ‘show patience’. “All governmental bodies are doing everything possible,” the statement says. Despite the neighborhood near the trade centre being cordoned, people are gathering wishing to help the affected. The donation acceptance has begun. According to preliminary data, about $250,000 are already raised.
Kenyan authorities confirm that victims of the terror attack became citizens of Australia, the UK, Ghana, India, Canada, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the US, France and South Africa.
British media reports that among the leaders of the terrorist group was a white British female, Samantha Lewthwaite. Additionally, the reports say that among the terrorists that took hostages in Nairobi’s trade center were another two British citizens from London – a 23-year-old Liban Adam and a 24-year-old Nasir Shirdun.
Kenyan servicemen say a white woman in a veil was shouting out commands to the militants in Arabic during the assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Samantha Lewthwaite is the widow of Jermaine Lindsey – a suicide terrorist that detonated a bomb in the underground between Kings Cross and Russel Square stations in a series of terrorist attacks in London July 7, 2005. As a result of this attack, apart from Lindsay himself died 26 people.
29-year-old Samantha Lewthwaite was born to a family of a British military officer. According to some reports, she is English; other reports say she comes from Northern Ireland. At the age of 17, Samantha met Jermaine Lindsay on the internet and married him after three years. After the terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005, Samantha told the police she was not aware of the terrorist activity of her husband and didn’t share his extremist views.
However, according to media reports, in 2007 Samantha Lewthwaite along with her three children allegedly left for Africa and joined the Ash-Shabaab militant group. Since then she takes part in the activities of this group, moving between Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.
In February, 2012, Kenyan police put Lewthwaite on the wanted list, when a South African passport with her photograph, but with a different name was found in a safehouse of the terrorists.
Employees of Kenyan, British and American secret services, as well as British press call Lewthwaite “the White Widow”. According to some reports, she is one of the main cash keepers of As-Shabaab and controls funds raised for terrorist activities. She reportedly prepares female suicide bombers in a camp in Somalia.
Kenyan special forces has surrounded terrorists at the Westgate mall, said David Kimaiyo, Inspector General of the Kenya Police. He reported that the anti-terrorist operation is its final stage. Over two days have passed since criminals have started taking hostages.
Kimaiyo said that this night special ops teams brought out some hostages from the building, but did not elaborate. It was previously reported that the majority of hostages who managed to flee the mall were in hiding.
Vladimir Putin issues a statement
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) over the hostage crisis in Kenya.
“We are witnesses of an awful tragedy taking place in Kenya. Gunmen came from a different country and in all appearances they are committing atrocious bloody crimes there,” the Russian leader said as an CSTO summit opened in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday.
“Let me express on our behalf words of solidarity with that country, its people and its leadership, and express condolences to all who were injured and to the families of those killed in that bloody massacre,” Putin said.