NAIROBI - As Kenyan special forces closed in on holdout Islamist fighters battling in a Nairobi mall Tuesday, speculation grew that a British woman nicknamed "the white widow" was among the attackers.
One name stands out: Samantha Lewthwaite, daughter of a British soldier and widow of suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, who blew himself up on a London Underground train on July 7, 2005, killing 26 people.
Media reports, which have dubbed the 29-year-old the "white widow", have linked her to plotting or masterminding attacks across the Horn of Africa region, though with often little clear evidence for her role.
Officials have given contradictory statements.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed has said a British woman was in the attack, telling the US public broadcaster PBS that "she has, I think, done this many times before."
But Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku had earlier denied that any of the insurgents were women, although noting that some male attackers "had dressed like women."
London refused to be drawn Tuesday on Amina Mohamed's comments that a British woman was among the militants behind the mall attack.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said the ministry was "aware" of Mohamed's comment.
"We continue to liaise very closely with the Kenyan authorities and to support their investigation into this attack," he said.
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