Kenyatta declares 3 days of mourning

Uhuru Kenyatta says his country has defeated the attackers and he's confirmed five terrorists were killed.

FILE: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves a hotel in London on 7 May 2013. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared three days of national mourning following the Westgate mall attack in the capital Nairobi.

The president says at least 67 people died in the siege and hundreds more people were hurt.

Kenyatta says his country has ashamed and defeated the attackers and he's confirmed five terrorists were killed and another eleven are in custody, but he's stopped short of saying the operation is over.

Kenyatta also says the attackers will face justice.

"I promise we'll have full accountability for the mindless destruction, pain, deaths, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family. These cowards will all face justice as will their accomplices wherever they are."

The president says forensic experts are working to identify the nationalities of the perpetrators and won't confirm whether Americans and a British woman were involved in the attacks.

He's praised the people of Kenya for their unity and resilience.

"I've always known our country is a splendid nation of fine patriotic citizens. The unity, selflessness and empathy shown to the affected over the last three days has been touching and exemplary. We couldn't in all fairness ask more of you."

MILITANTS 'HOLDING OUT' IN WESTGATE

Meanwhile, Somalia's al-Shabaab Islamist group said on Tuesday its militants were still holed up in Westgate Mall and there were "countless dead bodies", raising fears the death toll could be higher than 62.

Kenyan security forces were searching for the al Qaeda-linked attackers who are believed by Western sources to include Americans and possibly a British woman who may be the widow of a suicide bomber who took part in a big attack in London in 2005. Al-Shabaab rejected suggestions that foreigners were involved.

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

A paramedic, Sakina Stellah, who was inside the mall, told Reuters that bodies were still lying around as troops went from room to room, at times using blasting caps to open locked doors and occasionally firing as a precaution before moving in. "They are just trying to make sure the area is safe first," she said.

Helicopters buzzed over the complex, which is popular with prosperous foreigners and Kenyans. Al-Shabaab says it launched the attack in pursuit of demands that Kenya withdraw troops from Somalia, where they have battled the Islamist group. Kenyatta has vowed to stay the course there.

The attack has come at a time when several violent Islamist groups from Mali to Algeria, Nigeria to Kenya - tapping into local grievances but all espousing an anti-Western, anti-Christian creed - are striking at state authority and international interests.