The siege on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi ended on Tuesday, after four days of battle by Kenyan security forces to regain control of the mall from the terrorists who shot their way into the four-storey building on Saturday, .
In an emotional televised address to the nation, the President declared three days of mourning, starting on Wednesday, and updated the casualty figures from the attack, saying 61 civilians and six soldiers have been confirmed dead while 65 others are missing.
He also said security forces shot dead five of the attackers, while 11 suspects have been taken into custody.
The President hinted that the number of those who died could rise, saying several bodies were yet to be recovered from the mall. Three floors of the mall collapsed during the operation to flush out the terrorists, trapping bodies.
While saying that Kenya’s ‘losses are immense’, President Kenyatta noted that the country had ‘shamed and defeated our attackers’.
Rallying his people after what is being described as the worst terrorist attack in Kenya since the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, the Kenyan leader said his country had ‘stared down evil and triumphed’, adding: ‘Let’s stay true to who we are.’
He said the attackers wanted to ‘destroy the essential character of our society…, but they failed’.
‘As long as Kenya remains our home, we are indomitable,’ President Kenyatta vowed.
The President said he could not confirm reports that British and US citizens were involved in the attacks, but he said forensic experts were working to ascertain their nationalities.
The Somalia-based militant Islamic group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the mall attack, saying it was a reprisal for Kenya’s military operation in Somalia to rout out terrorists.