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Kenyan President claims mall terrorists have been defeated as troops defuse booby-traps

Nairobi: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says security forces have finally defeated a small group of terrorists after four days in fighting at a Nairobi mall.

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Nairobi mall militants 'defeated'

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declares on national TV that the militants that attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall are "defeated".

In a televised address to the nation Tuesday, Kenyatta said "we have ashamed and defeated our attackers".

He said the attack had left 240 casualties, including 61 dead civilians and six of his security forces. He said five terrorists were killed and another 11 suspects have been taken into custody.

The president says three floors of the Westgate mall collapsed and that there are "several bodies still trapped in the rubble including the terrorists."

He declared three days of national mourning.


Kenyan forces were defusing explosive devices set up by Islamist militants inside a shopping mall, where extremists claimed to be still holding hostages on Tuesday.

Shooting was heard on and off throughout the morning as the army said three Kenyan soldiers had died of wounds suffered in the battle to retake the mall.

‘‘We are doing clean-up of explosives that had been set up by the terrorists,’’ Kenyan police said.

No details were released about the nature and size of the explosives, but it added an extra dangerous element to the siege.

"Eleven KDF (Kenya Defence Force) soldiers sustained injuries ... regrettably, three of them succumbed to their injuries," army spokesman Cyrus Oguna said in a statement. The deaths took the toll in the attack to at least 65 people.

Sporadic gunfire at the upmarket Westgate Mall broke out again at dawn on Tuesday, hours after officials claimed Kenyan troops had wrested back ‘‘control’’ of the sprawling complex from insurgents, who are said to include Americans and a British woman.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said ''two or three Americans'' and ''one Brit'' were among the militants in the attack.

She said on Monday that the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived ''in Minnesota and one other place'' in the United States.

The British jihadist was a woman who had ''done this many times before'', Ms Mohamed said.

Britain is investigating a link to terrorism suspect Samantha Lewthwaite, nicknamed the ''White Widow'' by the British press.

Lewthwaite is the widow of one of the suicide bombers who together killed more than 50 civilians on London's public transport system in July 2005. She is also sought over an alleged plot to attack hotels and restaurants in Kenya.

Al-Shabab is a Somalian militia. But General Julius Karangi, chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, told reporters that the jihadists inside the mall were ''clearly a multinational collection from all over the world''.

On Monday, Kenyan security forces, assisted by American, European and Israeli advisers, intensified operations to end the crisis.

At noon, loud explosions and sporadic bursts of gunfire could be heard emanating from the shopping centre. By the late afternoon, plumes of smoke were rising from the area.

A senior Interior Ministry official, Joseph Ole Lenku, said the militants had set fire to one of the shops in the mall, the Nakumatt supermarket, as a diversion.

Many Kenyans have questioned why it has taken so long to end the siege. Senior government officials have said that security forces were being cautious to avoid the deaths of innocent civilians.

The death toll released by the government stood at 62 civilians, with more than 175 injured.

An earlier figure of 69 deaths, provided by the Kenyan Red Cross, was revised down. Sixty-three people were missing, according to the Red Cross, suggesting the militants still held hostages.

Al-Shabab has said the carnage was in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to fight in Somalia, where they remain a key bulwark for the Western-backed Mogadishu government.

Mr Lenku said that ''almost all of the hostages had been evacuated'', and officials said three of the estimated 10 to 15 militants were killed in the standoff. Ten people in Kenya have been detained in connection with the investigation.

Foreign jihadists were the militia's main link to al-Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan and have been central players in some of the militia's most gruesome attacks.

In September 2009, a Somali-American from Seattle drove a truck bomb into an African Union base in Somalia, killing 21 peacekeepers.

Washington Post, AFP, AP