Kenya shopping mall attack: At least 59 dead
Posted Sunday, September 22 2013 at 15:21
At least 59 people were killed and 175 injured in Saturday's attack on a Nairobi shopping centre, a Kenyan government minister has said.
Mr Joe Lenku said 1,000 people had managed to escape from the Westgate centre after the assault by suspected al-Shabab militants.
He added that between 10 to 15 attackers were still in the building.
It is not known how many civilians remain trapped there - either as hostages or hiding from the militants.
There is a heavy military presence both in and around the shopping centre, and sporadic gunfire can be heard from inside.
There are reports that the gunmen are currently holed up in a supermarket.
The Somali militant group Al-Shabab says it carried out the attack on the upmarket shopping centre in response to Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011.
'Watching and monitoring'
Kenyan officials said "major operations" were under way with police and soldiers preparing an apparent bid to bring an end to the stand-off.
But Joe Lenku, Kenya's interior minister, stressed that the operation was "very, very delicate".
"The priority is to save as many lives as possible,'' he said.
The BBC's Will Ross at the scene said it would be extremely difficult for the military do a quick raid on the building because of all the people inside.
The Al-Shabab have claimed there are at least 36 hostages, but this cannot be independently confirmed and there are also likely to be people hiding away from the attackers.
"We're not going to know the full extent of this attack until the military is back in control," our correspondent says.