Terror group claims gunmen, hostages still alive in Kenya mall
Los Angeles Times
NAIROBI, Kenya - Militants purporting to represent the terrorists who took over a Nairobi shopping mall claimed Tuesday that gunmen and their hostages were still alive, challenging Kenyan government accounts that the operation was all but over.
Kenyan authorities said security forces had full control of the Westgate shopping mall, and armed authorities were make final sweeps to secure the building.
The Interior Minister said the security forces "continue to neutralize terrorist threat, troops now in mop up operations in the building."
But a Twitter account purporting to represent Somali terror group al-Shabab claimed Tuesday that the operation wasn't over.
"The hostages who were being held by the Mujahideen inside #Westgate are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive," said a Twitter feed attributed to the terror group which has claimed responsibility for the attack which has killed 62 people.
The Site Intelligence Group, which monitors international terrorist organizations, confirmed the authenticity of the Twitter account, al-Shabab's sixth since the siege began. Previous accounts were suspended.
Kenyan officials dismissed the tweets as enemy propaganda.
"The enemy will continue spewing out propaganda to ensure that we fail as they want us to. Let us ignore such and focus on what is clear," said a tweet from Kenya's police.
Kenyan media reported that six terrorists had been killed but a government spokesman said Tuesday morning three of them were dead.
The alleged Al Shabab account posted a photograph of two gunmen outside lifts inside what appeared to be the Westgate mall. The timing of the photograph wasn't available; however the photograph appeared to be taken early in the siege.
"There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen are still holding their ground," the alleged al-Shabab Twitter feed said. "#Westgate attack is now into its fourth day but the operation is far, far greater than how the Kenyans perceive it in their minds."
The group also accused Kenyan officials of misleading the public about the details of the siege.
"The incoherent ramblings of Kenyan officials and the blatant discrepancies with regards to the Mujahideen at #Westgate betrays their fears," the Twitter feed said.
Special correspondent Soi reported from Nairobi and Los Angeles Times staff writer Dixon from Johannesburg.