Nairobi – The death toll from the terrorist attack in the besieged Westgate shopping mall is set to rise after some bodies were still trapped inside the mall.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the bodies of the hostages and those of the terrorists are still trapped in the rubble at Westgate shopping complex after three floors collapsed during the security operation.
“We have defeated our enemy and shown the whole world our values. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed. These cowards and their associates will meet justice wherever they are,” he told the nation.
The president also declared three days of national mourning starting on Wednesday as a result of the attack on the mall, adding that a forensic team is still at the scene of the attack.
He indicated that investigations were underway to ascertain the involvement of a British woman and two or three Americans in the Westgate terror attack.
The president told the nation that the preliminary death toll from the Westgate attack stood at 61 and that 240 others were injured after four days of standoff between the terrorists and the rescue team.
In the operation to rescue hostages, six security officers died while five persons identified as militants were killed, according to the Kenyan leader.
The president said security officers are questioning 11 suspects in connection to the attack, vowing to intensify operations against terrorism in the region.
His remarks came as the fate of the civilians who may still be hiding in the Westgate shopping mall or held hostage by terrorists remained unclear. The Kenya Red Cross Society had previously said some 60 people were unaccounted for.
He said the rescue team has spent two days attempting to clear the mall of any remaining militants as intermittent gunfire and explosions could be heard from inside the building on Tuesday.
Kenyatta called for collective efforts to fight global terrorism, while pledging the attackers will meet justice.
“I promise that we shall have a full accountability for the mindless destruction, deaths, pain, loss and suffering we have all undergone as a national family. These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are,” he said.
He thanked Kenyans for their show of togetherness, saying: “There is, evidently, no limit to your patriotic sacrifice. I am humbled and encouraged.”
Three days of national mourning have been declared, starting on Wednesday. – SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua