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Kenya shaken by new attacks while mourning victims of the mall siege

September 26, 2013|By Nicholas Soi and Robyn Dixon
  • The collapsed parking structure at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Two more attacks in the north of the country underscored continuing security problems.
The collapsed parking structure at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi,… (Kenyan Presidency / Associated…)

NAIROBI, Kenya -- As Kenyans grieved Thursday for the scores killed in an assault on a Nairobi shopping mall, reports of two more attacks in the north of the country underscored continuing security problems.

Kenyan authorities blamed the latest attacks on the Shabab, the Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group that claimed responsibility for the Westgate mall siege.

Two police officers were killed when their camp was attacked early Thursday in the town of Mandera, near the Somali border, Kenyan police and Interior Ministry officials said. On Wednesday, militants attacked a police patrol in the town of Wajir, also near the border, killing a civilian bystander.

Shabab's leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, vowed the attacks would continue as long as Kenya keeps troops in Somalia to support the country's weak government.

"Take your troops out or prepare for a long-lasting war, blood, destruction and evacuation," Godane said in an audio message posted online late Wednesday.

The Shabab's media office issued a series of taunting messages Thursday on Twitter.

"The mesmeric performance by the #Westgate Warriors was undoubtedly gripping, but despair not folks, that was just the première of Act 1," read one tweet.

"Kenyans, it’s a great pleasure to have had you completely enthralled for more than 100 hours. What a wonderful audience you've been!" said another.

Meanwhile, grieving families held funerals, while others searched for missing loved ones on the second of three days of national mourning for victims of the mall siege. At least 72 people were killed, including five assailants, in the attack that began Saturday and lasted more than three days.

Forensic investigators continued the painstaking search for remains in the rubble of the mall, where three stories collapsed in one section.

The Kenya Red Cross reported Thursday that 61 people remained missing, revising the figure from 71 after family members identified dead relatives or located survivors.

Indian community leaders believe at least 30 of their members were killed in the attack, including Muslims, the Hindu newspaper reported Thursday. Hindu leaders told the paper at least 22 funerals were planned, some of them held in recent days.

The official list of casualties contains only four names from Kenya's Indian community.

Kenya's Daily Nation published a list of 22 identified victims, including 18 foreigners.

The number of bodies still in the mall is not known, although Kenyan authorities insist very few people were buried when the roof and three floors caved in one section Monday.

Video footage and photographs released by Kenyan authorities revealed a scene of devastation, showing a gaping crater with cars balanced atop the rubble of a collapsed parking structure.

The images were grim evidence of how long the investigation is likely to take. They also suggest that some bodies might never be discovered and the total number of casualties never known.


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Twitter: @latimesdixon

Special correspondent Soi reported from Nairobi and staff writer Dixon from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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