Three soldiers die after mall attack

Army officials say 11 soldiers in total were injured in the ongoing siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

An image grab taken from AFP TV shows Kenyan troops taking position on September 21, 2013 inside the Westgate mall in Nairobi where Somali militants claimed responsibility for the killing of at least 59 people. Picture: NICHOLE SOBECKI/AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/NAIROBI - Three soldiers wounded in fierce gun battles at Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall have died, the Kenyan army said on Tuesday.

According to officials, 11 soldiers in total were injured in the ongoing siege by Islamist 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.

At the same time, reports are emerging that part of the rooftop parking at the upmarket mall has collapsed.

According to reports, a fireman and security sources confirmed the collapse.

Kenyan police are reportedly defusing explosives inside as authorities search for militants holed up in the shopping complex.

The bomb squad has been called in and the dog unit has also been spotted in the area.

CONFLICTING REPORTS

Conflicting information about the progress of the siege has raised questions about whether officials are really in control of the situation.

According to independent journalist Daniel Howden, government has been making contradictory statements on the matter.

The siege continues and at least three people did come out of the centre overnight and earlier on Tuesday morning.

MILITANTS 'HOLDING OUT'

Somalia's Al-Shabaab Islamist group on Tuesday said its militants were still holed up in the mall and there were "countless dead bodies", raising fears the death toll could climb.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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.

Helicopters buzzed over the complex, which is popular with foreigners and prosperous 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.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to stay the course there.

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

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

'HOSTAGES ALIVE'

As Kenyan authorities asserted that the end of the siege was "very near", Al-Shabaab said its militants were still holding out in the centre and their hostages were still alive.

"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."

It described its fighters as "unruffled and strolling around the mall in such sangfroid manner".

People who earlier helped remove bodies from the mall said they believed there were still many lying there yet to be removed, suggesting that the death toll could rise.

The Kenyan military said its forces were carrying out "mop up operations" in the building.

The Interior Ministry earlier said security forces were in control of the mall and that all the hostages had been released.