Kenyan military forces continued to besiege the Westgate mall in Nairobi on Monday in an attempt to capture the Islamist militants inside and free their remaining hostages.
According to press reports, black smoke billowed from the mall most of Monday afternoon as the Kenyan military began its attack. More than 60 people were killed Sunday when the militants, part of the Somali al-Shabab group, attacked the mall. About 150 people were injured in the attack.
Kenyan authorities had said late Sunday that the attack was nearing an end but had to reverse themselves Monday and admit the effort was taking longer than expected.
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Local retail remained disrupted by the attack on the mall, one of the most upscale in Kenya. Moses Kanene, the chief executive officer of the Monarch Group, which owns a number of buildings, including The Mall, located about 300 yards from the Westgate complex, said, “I did visit our premises at The Mall in Westlands on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.…The security teams comprised of our security guards and civilian clothes undercover police have remained vigilant. All our staff remain safe and accounted for. We also made visits to the shops at The Mall and advised all our tenants to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.”
He issued a memo to his staff which said: “The situation is still ‘Live’ and the terrorists are holding hostages and still in control of the Westgate mall. As Kenyans, this cowardly act shall only reinforce our quest for freedom and enterprise. We shall overcome these forces of evil.”
Kim McKenzie, head of local beachwear firm The Kikoy Co., said that his thoughts were perhaps not typical, adding, “I think it is just what is happening in the world right now, we need to just carry on with our lives. The reality is, as terrible as it is, if we change the way we live our lives, and the way we shop and socialize, then these people have won. The other thing is, in Nairobi, we have many killings each day, and the police are largely powerless to stop it. I have had a gun in my face twice from people wanting to steal my car.…We need to continue with our lives, accept the risk of gun crime and terrorism, do what we can to stop it or mitigate its effects, but we can’t give in and let them change our lives.”