Kenyan president announces end to mall bloodbath

Kenyan president announces end to mall bloodbath

NEW YORK/NAIROBI - US officials are talking to Kenyan officials to try to determine whether any Americans were involved in a deadly attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.

There have been US news reports that a small number of Americans or US residents might have been among the perpetrators of a weekend assault that killed dozens at Nairobi's Westgate mall.

The Obama official, asked about those reports, said it is"something we are talking to the Kenyans about."

"We are in communication with the Kenyan authorities and working to establish what we can about any American participation," the official told reporters on the fringes of the UN General Assembly.

This comes as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Tuesday that a four-day siege by Islamist gunmen of a Nairobi shopping mall was over, with the "immense" loss of 61 civilians and six members of the security forces.

"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers, that part of our task is completed," a sombre Kenyatta, who himself lost family members in the assault, said in a televised address to the nation.

The president said "three floors of the mall collapsed, trapping several bodies within the rubble including those of terrorists."

Police said the current death toll was provisional, while the Kenyan Red Cross said 63 people were still listed as missing.

"Our losses are immense," the president said, announcing three days of national mourning.

Five attackers had been killed and 11 suspects were in custody. Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels said the group carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in the country.

"We have been badly hurt, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed. We have defeated our enemies and showed the whole world what we can accomplish," he said.

In one of the worst attacks in the country's history, a group of attackers marched into the four-storey, part Israeli-owned Westgate Mall at midday Saturday, spraying shoppers with automatic weapons fire and tossing grenades.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels said they carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenya's two-year battle against the extremists' bases in the country. "It's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," the group said on Twitter late on Tuesday night.

Kenyatta said that "forensic investigations are under way to establish the nationalities of all those involved" amid reports Americans and a British woman were among the insurgents.

There has been growing media speculation at the possible role of wanted British extremist 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.

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