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Gunmen holding hostages in Nairobi

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-23 02:29

NAIROBI - Up to 15 gunmen are still holding a number of hostages at a popular shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, one day after launching a deadliest attack in retaliation for the East African country's military action against the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab.

Nearly 50 people remain unaccounted for in tense standoff between Kenyan security forces and Al-Shabaab suspects, according to the Kenya Red Cross sources.

At least 59 people have been killed and 175 others wounded after the gunmen stormed the upscale shopping mall, Cabinet Secretary in charge of Internal Security Joseph Ole Lenku told journalists early in the day.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said gunmen also killed a nephew and his fiancee.

Among the slain foreigners were two French nationals, two Canadians, three Britons, one Chinese and one Ghanaian.

While the Kenyan special force was called in to back up police to zero in on the attackers inside the building, Israeli officials said they had sent anti-terror experts to the scene to help end the siege.

The gunmen targeted the part of the mall where Israelis owned restaurants.

Israelis were also victims of attacks in Kenya in 2002, when more than a dozen people were killed in a blast at an Israeli- owned hotel in the port city Mombasa and an Israeli airliner survived shooting from the ground after taking off.

In another development on Sunday, the international police organization Interpol offered to deploy an Incident Response Team consisting of specialized forensic officers, anti-terror experts and analysts after the mall attack in Kenya.

Interpol said if requested, it can issue one of its color-coded international notices to alert law enforcement around the world about the modus operandi behind the attacks.

Kenya has tightened control across the country, especially in areas bordering Somalia. Police confirmed on Sunday that five Kenyan youths from the coastal city of Mombasa who were due to join the militant group Al-Shabaab in Somalia have been arrested.

The African Union (AU) on Sunday strongly condemned the attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi, vowing to counter terrorism throughout the continent, stabilize the situation in Somalia and fight by its mission in the Horn of African country AMISOM against Al-Shabaab.

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