Gunfire heard at Kenyan mall under siege after 68 killed by Islamists

Gunfire heard at Kenyan mall under siege after 68 killed by Islamists
A Kenyan army soldier keeps guard in an armoured carrier vehicle, at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi.

NAIROBI - Heavy and sustained gunfire was heard at the Nairobi shopping mall where at least 68 people were killed by a Somali Islamist group, a Reuters witness reported on Monday, suggesting an assault by Kenyan security forces.

As the siege entered its third day, a Reuters witness at the scene heard heavy and sustained gunfire for about five minutes. The blast of gunfire was followed by a lull, and then a series of small, sporadic explosions occurred.

Kenya's military had earlier said on its Twitter feed that it was making every effort to bring the siege "to a speedy conclusion."

When asked about the gunfire, Kenya's military spokesman, Colonel Cyrus Oguna, said he could not comment.

Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbass Gullet confirmed to Reuters that there was fighting going on in the mall.

On Sunday night, Oguna said there had been an operation under way since early on Sunday. Troops stormed the upmarket Westgate mall at lunchtime on Saturday. Oguna said most of those trapped in the complex were free.

"Most of the hostages have been released, and the Kenya Defence Forces has taken control of most parts of the building,"Oguna told local station KTN, giving no details. He told Britain's Sky News late on Sunday: "A large number of hostages have been rescued since this morning."

He made no mention of killing or capturing militants, but said commanders hoped to end the operation "very, very soon".

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