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Kenyan mall terror ends

9/24/2013, 9:12 p.m.
Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, Sept. 23. Multiple large blasts rocked the mall where a hostage siege continued for four days before Kenyan forces defeated the al-Qaida-linked terrorists. (AP Photo/ Jerome Delay)

Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, said soldiers defeated the group of terrorists that held several hostages and the entire upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, ending a terrifying standoff that lasted four days.

“We have ashamed and defeated our attackers,” said Kenyatta, in a nationally televised address to announce the end of the attack that he said left 240 casualties – a figure that includes six dead Kenyan soldiers and 61 dead civilians.

He said 11 suspects are now in the custody of Kenyan authorities and five of the attackers were killed during the fighting.

The four-day terrorist event began with four explosions that rattled Wesgate Mall last week, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air visible miles from the upscale Westlands neighborhood. Terrified mall shoppers and hostages were evacuated from the building amidst chaos and continuing gunfire.

In the days leading up to the end of the siege, Gen. Julius Karangi, Kenya Chief of Defense forces, indicated that the attack, claimed by the al-Qaida-linked Somali group, al-Shabab, was carried out by terrorist fighters from several different nations. He said, “We have an idea who these people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world.” he said.

After The four explosions, the gunfire and the smoke, the well-off neighborhood took on the feel of a war zone, with military helicopters, police helicopters and a plane circling the mall, ground zero.

This past Sunday, Kenyan officials had not given exact numbers, but said Kenyan forces had successfully rescued most of the hostages. Keeping the hostages alive, the stated priority, made fighting the attackers difficult. The total number of hostages that were taken remains unclear.

The list of confirmed dead includes British, French, Canadian, Indian, Ghanaian, South African and Chinese citizens.

According to al-Shabab, the attack targeted non-Muslims, and was in retaliation for a 2011 offensive across the Kenyan border, and into Somalia, carried out by Kenyan forces.