Gunmen attack Nairobi shopping mall

At least five people have been killed in a shootout at the city's Westgate Shopping Mall.

At least five people have been killed during a shootout at a shopping mall in Nairobi. Picture: sxc.hu

NAIROBI - At least five people have been killed during a shootout at a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Witnesses said they saw about five armed assailants storm the Westgate Shopping Mall and that the incident appeared to be an attack rather than an armed robbery.

Police helicopters circled overhead as armed police shouted "get out, get out", and scores of shoppers fled the building. Smoke poured out of one entrance and witnesses said they heard grenade blasts.

The Somali militant group al-Shabaab has previously threatened to strike the mall which is popular with the city's expatriate community. It would have been packed on a Saturday morning.

"They don't seem like thugs, this is not a robbery incident," said Yukeh Mannasseh who was on the mall's top floor when the shooting started. "It seems like an attack. The guards who saw them said they were shooting indiscriminately."

One eyewitness who identified himself as Taha said he heard the screech of brakes followed moments later by an explosion and then sustained gun fire from the ground floor.

Sporadic gun shots could be heard almost two hours after the shooting started as police combed the building.

At least two dozen wounded were wheeled out on stretchers and shopping trolleys. Many of the victims had multiple light wounds, apparently from flying debris. Other walked out, some with bloodied clothing wrapped around wounds.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the incident.