Kenya defeats terrorists after four-day siege

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Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday that the task to defeat attackers at a shopping mall in Nairobi has been completed after four days of fighting which saw a death toll of 72 people, including five terrorists.

Kenyan soldiers patrol near the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013. Kenyan security forces continued its operation on Tuesday inside the mall where 62 people were killed by gunmen since Saturday, after more gunmen were killed as the siege of the mall enters the fourth day. [Zhang Chen/Xinhua]

Kenyan soldiers patrol near the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013. [Zhang Chen/Xinhua] 

"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers," Kenyatta said in a televised address, noting "that part of task has been completed. " He said five terrorists have been killed and 11 suspects are in custody.

A total of 67 people were killed by the gunmen who stormed the upscale shopping mall on Saturday, including 61 civilians and six security officers, according to the president. The number of casualty is set to rise as, according to the president, there are still bodies trapped inside the building including those of terrorists as part of the mall collapsed. Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning starting Wednesday.

Somali militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for attack, the bloodiest assault in Kenya since the U.S. Embassy was bombed in 1998.

Kenyatta's remarks came as the fate of the civilians who may still be hiding in the mall or held by hostage by terrorists remained unclear as the Kenya Red Cross Society said some 60 people remain unaccounted for.

A forensic team is still at the scene of the attack, Kenyatta said.

He vowed to intensify operation against terrorism in the region. "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. The president lost a nephew in the bloodbath.

A group of masked gunmen numbering between 10 and 15 stormed the upscale Westgate shopping mall around Saturday noon, shooting ruthlessly at shoppers and hurling grenades, causing 240 casualties.

The militant group said later on its twitter feed that the attack was part of retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia in October 2011 and that it demanded Kenya withdraw troops from the country.

However, the demand was rejected by Kenyatta who said on Sunday that Kenya would not relent in its resolve to fight global terrorism.

The tense standoff between security forces and Al-Shabaab militants persisted for four days, featuring sporadic gunfight, explosions, fire and thick smoke billowing.

Kenyatta said forensic investigations are underway to ascertain the involvement of two or three Americans and one British woman in the attack.

Kenya's cabinet secretary for foreign affairs and international trade Amina Mohamed earlier told America's Public Broadcasting Service's NewsHour program that "two or three Americans and one Brit" were among the attackers who carried out the shooting spree. The Americans were 18 to 19 years old of Somali or Arab origin and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the U.S., she said.

Canadian, British, Chinese, Ghanian, French, South African are among the victims of the carnage.

The attack in Kenya has aroused wide condemnations from United Nations, African Union, Western powers, African peers and others that also sent condolences to the victims and offered support to combat terrorism.

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