PM prepared for Kenya siege newsPress Association – 4 hours ago
Press Association - Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
The UK has offered Kenya assistance, including intelligence co-operation, in response to the attack by Islamic extremists in the upmarket shopping centre which has left scores dead and many more injured.
Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the atrocity, which Mr Cameron described as an "absolutely sickening and despicable act of appalling brutality".
The Kenya Defence Forces said on Twitter: "Most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building ... all efforts are underway to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion."
Four personnel were injured in the operation to retake the mall and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Earlier, the Prime Minister said he had offered the Kenyan authorities "every assistance" in a call to president Uhuru Kenyatta, who lost members of his own family in the attack. He was at pains to stress that the perpetrators did not represent the majority of Muslims but had carried out the atrocity "in the name of terror, violence and extremism".
Mr Cameron said: "These appalling terrorist attacks that take place, where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion, they don't. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don't represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world."
Setting out the UK's response, he added: "Obviously the first priority is to make sure we do everything for the British nationals caught up in this, so we're strengthening the consular services that we have and the people that we have to look after our people. We've also offered the Kenyans help in terms of policing and advice and intelligence collaboration and other areas which we will be able to help with."
UK staff from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia travelled to assist locally-based officials with the efforts in Nairobi and a rapid deployment team was sent from London, the Foreign Office said.
Let us stand united in war against terrorism, leaders urge Kenyans
Updated Sunday, September 22nd 2013 at 19:30 GMT +3
|President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the press Sunday evening accompanied by former PM Raila Odinga and other national leaders. [Photo: Standard]|
NAIROBI; KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero have called on Kenyans to stand united in the war against terrorism.
The leaders condemned the Westgate Mall terror attack and urged Kenyans not to play into the perpetrators’ hands by allowing themselves to be divided on religious lines.
“As leaders, we are united in ensuring perpetrators of this cowardly act are dealt with accordingly. Terrorism knows no religious or tribal
boundaries. Let’s all be united in defeating it,” the leaders said.
The Kenyan leaders, from across the political divide, were addressing a joint press conference at State House Nairobi Sunday following the terror attack.
They appealed for calm as the situation is being addressed by security
agencies, adding that this is not the time to apportion blame on anyone.
The leaders called on the international community to support Kenya and not issue travel advisories, saying the move would hurt the country’s tourism sector.
President Uhuru assured Kenyans that security across the country has been beefed up. He advised citizens to remain vigilant and report to the authorities any suspicious people or events.
“The heinous act visited on our people has strengthened our resolve in the fight against terrorism. We shall not relent in this war. We will track the perpetrators and make them pay for their crime,” the President said.
He thanked Kenyans for staying strong and for being there for each other's sake as the tragic ordeal at the Westgate Mall enters its second day. The evil and cowardly act of terrorism has claimed 59 lives and injured more than 175 people, the President said.
“As your president, as a leader and as a Kenyan, I feel the pain of every life we have lost, and share your grief at our nation's loss. My nephew and his fiancée are among those who died in this attack,” he said.
Owing to the professional response of the various security agencies at the scene and the selflessness of countless Kenyans, the President said more than 1,000 people were rescued from the Mall and attended to.
He asked Kenyans not to sacrifice their values and dignity to appease
cowards but instead stand united in the face of adversity.
“Our victory must be conclusive. Let us defeat them with our unity. By responding quickly and generously to distress calls, we have triumphed,” the President said.
He commended Kenyans for coming out in large numbers to donate blood, give money through mobile devices; and buy and distribute food, blankets and beverages to the affected.
The President pointed out that there are between 10 and 15 armed
terrorists inside the mall but the multi-agency response unit is
addressing the situation professionally to contain the criminals and keep people still held in the building safe.
The Inspector-General of the Police Service, David Kimaiyo, remains in charge of the situation while teams from the Kenya Defence Forces have supplemented the intervention.
The Head of State said the criminals are now all located in one place
within the building and assured Kenyans chances are high that the
terrorists will successfully be neutralised.
Former Prime Minister Odinga asked Kenyans to desist from propagating hate messages on social media but instead use the technology to boost national cohesion, Mr Mudavadi and Dr Kidero urged Kenyans to shun blame games in relation to the terror attack.
In a show of solidarity, African envoys accredited to Kenya attended the State House press conference and affirmed Africa’s support during this difficult time.
Earlier the leaders visited MP Shah and the Aga Khan hospitals in
Nairobi to console the injured and wish them quick recovery. They also sent messages of condolences to the bereaved families.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Special forces in final assault on attackers
- Israeli forces and officers from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations were also assisting their Kenyan counterparts.
- Officials were understandably tight-lipped about how the attempt to rescue the remaining people would be made but it was clear preparations were underway.
By JOHN NGIRACHU