Al-Shabaab warns of more attacks

The Somali Islamist group warned Kenyans to expect more “black days” ahead.

Smoke rises from the beseiged Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi following a loud explosion. Kenyan security forces were locked in a fierce, final battle with Somali Islamist gunmen. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Al-Shabaab insurgents on Tuesday warned of fresh attacks in Kenya if that country's troops do not pull out of Somalia immediately.

This comes as Kenyan security forces battle to end the ongoing siege at Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall.

Sporadic bursts of gunfire and an explosion marked the fourth day since the militants stormed into the centre during a busy Saturday lunchtime, spraying bullets and lobbing grenades.

Al-Shabaab says the siege is just a taste of what it will do and warned Kenyans to expect "black days ahead".

Heavy gunfire has been reported at the mall again this afternoon, despite the government insisting it is in control of the building.

Authorities asserted that the end of the siege was "very near" and police conducted a sweep to ensure the mall was safe.

But Al-Shabaab says its militants are still holed up inside the shopping complex in the heart of the capital.

The Somali Islamist group said hostages are still alive, raising fears the death toll could climb.

"There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen (fighters) are still holding their ground #Westgate," the group said on its Twitter feed.

"The hostages who were being held by the Mujahideen inside #Westgate are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to stay the course in Somalia.

The president described the attack as "despicable and beastly" and promised to deal with those responsible.

The United Nations (UN) has called for more military support for African troops to counter Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

According to officials, 11 soldiers in total were injured in the ongoing siege by the militants linked to Al-Qaeda.

This brings the terror attack death toll to 65, with scores of people still unaccounted for and hundreds receiving treatment for injuries.

United States (US) President Barack Obama has called for solidarity against violent groups like Al-Shabaab.

"All of us as the international community have to stand against the senseless violence that these kinds of groups represent. As the United States, we will continue to work with the entire African continent and around the world to ensure we are dismantling these networks of destruction."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed says government is receiving advice and support from Israel.

"I know that others from the Middle East have also provided support. We've been talking to them. I know that they have pledged their support. When you're facing a tragedy of this magnitude, your friends come in and they help."