More gunfire at Nairobi Mall

Kenyan authorities are doing a final sweep of shops after the last hostages were rescued.

A policeman carry's a baby to safety after Somalia's al Shabaab terrorists stormed the Westgate Mall and sprayed gunfire on shoppers and staff in Nairobi, Kenya on 21 September 2013. Picture: AFP

NAIROBI - There have been reports of gunfire at Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall, despite an earlier announcement by the Kenyan Interior Ministry that troops were "in control" of the mall.

Earlier, the ministry announced all hostages being held by Somalia's al Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group were believed to have been freed.

There were also reports that security forces were not encountering any resistance from within.

A group of between 10 and 15 militants stormed the upscale mall at lunchtime on Saturday and began shooting civilians indiscriminately killing at least 62 and wounding several others.

South African businessman James Thomas was among those killed.

Police were reportedly doing a final sweep of shops early on Tuesday after the last of the hostages had been rescued.

A government official said there was no resistance from the attackers late on Monday night after a barrage of gunfire and blasts throughout the day, but that the security forces were cautious in case some attackers were hiding in the building.

"Our forces are combing the mall floor by floor looking for anyone left behind. We believe all hostages have been released," the Ministry of Interior said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Kenya's government believes there are also foreigners among the attackers, with military chief Julius Karangi saying they came from all over the world.

"We are fighting global terrorism here."

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said in a US television interview that "two or three Americans" and a British woman were among the attackers.

US security sources said authorities were urgently looking into information given by the Kenyan government that some of the terrorists were residents of Western countries, including the United States.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said he had no direct information that Americans had participated in the attack, but expressed concern.

"We do monitor very carefully and have for some time been concerned about efforts by al-Shabaab to recruit Americans or US persons to come to Somalia."

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the attackers were all men but that some had dressed as women after speculation rose about the identity of the attackers.

But despite his comments, one intelligence officer and two soldiers said one of the dead militants was a white woman.

This is likely to fuel speculation that she is the wanted widow of one of the suicide bombers who together killed more than 50 people on London's transport system in 2005.

Called the "white widow" by the British press, Samantha Lewthwaite is wanted in connection with an alleged plot to attack hotels and restaurants in Kenya.

Asked if the dead woman was Lewthwaite, the intelligence officer said: "We don't know."

Two attackers were killed on Monday, taking the total of dead militants so far to three.

On Monday, Kenyan police arrested 10 people in connection with the attack.


Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has joined other African leaders in strongly condemning the attacks in Kenya, ahead of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA68), scheduled to take place from 23 to 26 September.

The President will address the General Assembly during the opening session of its general debate today.

Zuma says leaders meeting to discuss the UN backed peace plan for the Democratic Republic of Congo unreservedly condemn the shootings in Kenya.

"What has happened in Kenya indicates the extent that terrorism could go. So many innocent souls have died why this should be allowed?"

He said it's imperative the attacks are addressed during the UNGA.

"It's absolutely important we take a very firm decision."