Kenya mourns four-day Westgate siege victims

NAIROBI - Kenya has begun three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege by Islamist militants on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre.
Traders were selling wreaths outside Nairobi’s City Mortuary. Net photo.
Traders were selling wreaths outside Nairobi’s City Mortuary. Net photo.

NAIROBI - Kenya has begun three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege by Islamist militants on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said 72 people had died, including six security personnel and five militants.

Eleven people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said 137 hostages had died, but the statement cannot be verified.

Across Kenya, flags flew at half mast, as grieving friends and relatives continued to hold funerals for victims of the attack.

As the clearing of the mall continues, the death toll is expected to rise. Several bodies, including those of some attackers, are thought to be trapped under rubble after three floors of the building collapsed following a blaze.

Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported that dozens of bodies were removed from the building on Tuesday evening.

The building has been sealed off as forensic experts collect evidence.

The BBC’s Will Ross reports from Nairobi that for most Kenyans there is relief that the siege is over and on the first of three days of mourning the hustle and bustle is returning to Nairobi’s streets.

In his address late on Tuesday, the president praised the response of ordinary Kenyans, calling it exemplary and overwhelming.

“We have ashamed and defeated our attackers,” he said. “Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed.”

Agencies

 

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