Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta just took to national television to announce that the four-day sieg eat Nairobi's Westgate Premier Shopping Mall is over.
Five attackers were shot dead by troops and 11 suspects are in custody, he said in a televised address to the nation.
Kenya has "shamed and defeated our attackers" but the "losses are immense", he said, confirming that 61 civilians and six soldiers had died.
President Kenyatta's address here:
Who Was Involved?
While al-Qaeda offshoot al-Shabaab has claimed credit and is generally accepted to be the perpetrators, there is still only speculation of who the individuals are that pulled off the attack. Reports that Americans and Britons were among the terrorists have been disseminated widely, but have not been confirmed. Per the New York Times:
Among the attackers were two or three young American men who appeared to be of Somali or Arab origin, Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said Monday. In an interview on PBS, Ms. Mohamed said the American attackers were originally from Minnesota or Missouri. “That just goes to underline the global nature of the war that we’re fighting,” she said.
The State Department’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said: “We have no definitive evidence of the nationalities or identities of the perpetrators at this time. We will continue to look into these reports.”
This won't be an easy one to answer. I diaried this yesterday, and it is for the most part still as good an explanation as any:
Spokesmen for al-Shabab have said that they staged this attack as retribution for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia, where Kenyan troops have driven al-Shabaab fighters out of much of the territory they once controlled. On Twitter, al-Shabaab said that they have "on numerous occasions warned the Kenyan government failure to remove its forces from Somalia would have severe consequences." The also claimed that "[t]he attack at Westgate mall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders."There was certainly a religious zealotry aspect to this. Multiple reports from CNN, BBC, and other reported that non-Muslims were singled out for attack. Indeed, a chilling tweet from an al-Shabaab account (since shut down) read: "Only Kuffar were singled out for this attack. All Muslims inside #Westgate were escorted out by the Mujahideen before beginning the attack." Per the BBC, "one witness explained how he was released by the attackers after showing his ID with a Muslim-sounding name...An Indian man who was standing next to him was asked for the name of the Prophet's mother and when he was unable to answer, he was shot dead, the witness told him."
Twitter has, as of this writing, shut down three al-Shabaab accounts.
Conflicting reports have emerged as to how much of the mall and/or its shops are owned by Israeli interests, as this was initially thought to be part of the motivation of the attackers. However al-Shabaab has not mentioned Israel as a reason, and Israeli sources have publicly stated that they have nothing to suggest that they were targeted.
What is the Casualty Toll?
This is likely an evolving number, but per CNN:
Five of the gunmen were killed in the fighting, Kenyatta said. Eleven other people had been arrested over possible connections to the attack, which left 61 civilians and six security officers dead, 62 people in the hospital and Kenya's reputation as a bulwark of African stability in tatters.
Kenyans have initiated a blood drive for the injured, and I suspect we'll know more about where to donate money in the coming days. I saw on Twitter last night a plea for people to make sure that whatever charity they donate to is legit before sending money. I find this a very prudent course of action.