Smoke pours from Kenya mall as forces ‘close in’

(SOURCE: REUTERS)- Thick smoke poured from the besieged Nairobi mall where Kenyan officials said their forces were closing in on Islamists holding hostages on Monday, three days after a raid by Somalia’s al Shabaab killed at least 62 people.

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It remained unclear how many gunmen and hostages were still cornered in the Westgate shopping center, two hours after a series of loud explosions and gunfire were followed by a plume of black smoke, that grew in volume from one part of the complex.

Kenya’s interior minister told a news conference that the militants – all men, though some wore women’s clothing during the assault – had set a fire with mattresses in a supermarket on the mall’s lower floors. Two “terrorists” had been killed on Monday, he added. Another assailant had died on Saturday.

The gunmen came from “all over the world”, Kenya’s military chief said, adding: “We are fighting global terrorism here.”

Security officials near the scene had said the blasts heard at lunchtime were caused by Kenyan forces blasting away in after President Uhuru Kenyatta had on Sunday dismissed a demand that he pull Kenyan forces out of neighboring Somalia.

SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/23/us-kenya-attack-idUSBRE98K03V20130923

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