Still no end to Nairobi mall terror attack
It's been four days since the seige of the Westgate mall in Nairobi began, and there are conflicting reports about whether the government has control of the mall, whether there are any more hostages, and just how many people may still be trapped in the huge building.
Sounds of heavy gunfire erupted from Nairobi's Westgate mall Tuesday, even as authorities said for the second day they had the building under their control.
The mall "is under the full control of govt forces and we are carrying out a sweep to ensure (it's) safe for everyone," Kenyan police tweeted Tuesday.
Kenya's Interior Ministry also gave reason for hope: "We're very near the end."
But four days after Al-Shabaab terrorists stormed the swanky mall, several gunmen -- including snipers -- were still inside, two senior officials said.
And it's uncertain how many hostages might still be trapped, although Kenyan officials tweeted early Tuesday that they believed all of them had been freed.
Hours later, the sound of an explosion was heard coming from the mall.
"We are doing cleanup of explosives that had been set up by the terrorists," police said.
At least 62 people were dead, the Kenya Red Cross said in its last accounting Monday. However, the death toll would not appear to include three Kenyan soldiers reported dead by the military Tuesday, and more bodies of civilians could remain inside the besieged mall.
And while the deadly siege drags on, the families of 65 people still unaccounted for don't know whether their loved ones escaped safely, are hiding somewhere in the vast mall or might be among the dozens killed by the terrorists.
Even as soldiers continued to sweep the mall, authorities also zeroed in on an airports and border crossings. More than 10 suspects were arrested Monday for questioning in relation to the attacks, the Interior Ministry tweeted Tuesday.
Authorities also increased security at all entries and exits across the country, the nation's Immigration Department said Monday.
The confusion is understandable. Think about a mall that you visit and all the places a few armed men could barricade themselves in. This mall has 80 stores. Each one must be thoroughly and carefully searched. It may be days yet before the entire structure can be declared secure and all the people accounted for.
Sue went to the mall out in Peru, IL yesterday and reported that there appeared to be a larger and more visible security presence than she's noted before. Of course, it may be that she just wasn't paying attention in previous visits. No need to. But I suspect that very quietly, American malls have taken steps to be able to deal with a similar situation. Since mall police aren't generally armed, you would expect some undercover or off duty cops to be on site.
Obviously, mall officials don't want to advertise the increased security. But they'd be fools not to realize that this attack may be a game changer as far as terroist tactics are concerned.