Al-Shabaab: Kenyan forces used chemical weapons

2013-09-25 12:44

Nairobi - The militant group behind the four-day takeover of a Nairobi mall claimed Wednesday that Kenyan government forces used chemical weapons in their assault on the building, then carried out "a demolition" to cover evidence and buried 137 hostages.

In a series of Twitter posts from an account believed to be genuine, al-Shabaab said that "having failed to defeat the mujahideen inside the mall, the Kenyan govt disseminated chemical gases to end the siege".

They added "to cover their crime, the Kenyan govt carried out a demolition to the building, burying evidence and all hostages under the rubble".

Government spokesperson Manoah Esipisu immediately denied the claim, saying no chemical weapons were used and that the official civilian death toll remains 61.

"Al-Shabaab is known for wild allegations and there is absolutely no truth to what they're saying," he said. But officials said the death count will likely rise. Estimates varied between only a few bodies to dozens of bodies possibly still inside the mall.

A British man was arrested in Kenya following the terrorist attack, Britain's Foreign Office said.

The agency said in a statement on Wednesday that British officials are ready to provide assistance to the man. Officials would not provide his name or details. He is believed to be in his 30s. Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said he was arrested on Monday as he tried to board a flight from Nairobi to Turkey. The newspaper said his face was bruised and he was acting suspiciously.

Esipisu said floors of the mall collapsed after a fire started by the al-Shabaab attackers caused structural weakness in a 3rd floor parking lot, which then came down onto the second floor and brought it down onto the first, or ground floor.

National mourning

He said there were known to be eight civilians in the rubble, which were included in the government's official death estimate. There could be several terrorists also buried, he said.

At the mall on Wednesday morning, gunshots could be heard. Esipisu said the shots came from Kenyan forces going room to room in the large Westgate Mall, firing protectively before entering unknown territory. President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation the night before the terrorists had been defeated and declared three days of national mourning beginning on Wednesday.

"During sanitisation once you take control of the place if you go to a room where you haven't visited before you shoot first to make sure you aren't walking into an ambush," he said. "But there hasn't been any gunfire from the terrorists for more than 36 hours."

The Kenyan government said forensic experts from the United States, Britain and Israel would be assisting them in their investigation of the attack.

"The mall is sealed off. It is a crime scene," Esipisu said.

The process of retrieving bodies from inside the mall still had not begun on Wednesday morning — possibly indicating that the situation was not yet considered secure — though a city morgue official said his workers were preparing to go into the building soon.

The attack claimed by Somali militant group al-Shabaab killed at least 61 civilians, six security officers and five extremists, the president said.

Another 175 people were injured, including more than 60 who remain hospitalised.

Fears persisted that some of the attackers could still be alive and loose inside the rubble of the mall, a vast complex that had shops for retailers like Bose, Nike and Adidas, as well as banks, restaurants and a casino.

Major terror attack

A high-ranking security official involved in the investigations said it would take time to search the whole mall before declaring that the terrorist threat had been crushed. That official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss information not publicly disclosed.

Eleven other suspects have been taken into custody, and Esipisu said: "At this at this point the interrogations are ongoing and I can't reveal any of the details."

Al-Shabaab, whose name means "The Youth" in Arabic, first began threatening Kenya with a major terror attack in late 2011, after Kenya sent troops into Somalia following a spate of kidnappings of Westerners inside Kenya.

The al-Shabaab extremists stormed the mall on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing on civilians.

The group used Twitter to say that Somalis have been suffering at the hands of Kenyan military operations in Kenya, and the mall attack was revenge.

"You could have avoided all this and lived your lives with relative safety," the group Tweeted on Tuesday. "Remove your forces from our country and peace will come."

The militants specifically targeted non-Muslims, and at least 18 foreigners were among the dead, including six Britons, as well as citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China. Five Americans were among the wounded.

The mall attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaeda truck bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.

Security officials in Nairobi always knew that Westgate, which was popular with foreign residents of the capital as well as tourists and wealthy Kenyans, was a likely target for terror attacks.

  • Mundamurefu Tatora - 2013-09-25 12:51

    Aren't we lucky the chemical weapons are not in the hands of Al-Shabaab?

      Thabang Bonang - 2013-09-25 13:09

      It is possible for chemical weapons to be in the hands of Al-Shabaab. AlQaeda could be doing the same thing they are doing in Syria claiming that it was the government that used chemical weapons so that the west can attack Kenya. Now planning to attack Israel with chemical weapons from Syria so that the west can attack Syria.

      Hans Baer - 2013-09-25 13:11

      Very soon they will possess them. This is so scary coz these guys target innocent civilians.

      Carling Blacklabel - 2013-09-25 14:01

      the "chemical weapons" mentioned, were probably nothing more that tear gas grenades!

  • eric09 - 2013-09-25 13:04

    Infact,chemical weapons should be used to exterminate terrorism, they are killing innocent civilians

  • Xavi Mendes - 2013-09-25 13:07

    Now alshabab is mad, they kill innocent people and claim to be poisoned! They have a nerve, gggrrrrrrggghhh!

  • Hans Baer - 2013-09-25 13:08

    I wonder who is next by these terrorists? This world is coming to an end. What is wrong? Is this a symptom of a disordered world, economically,socially and politically?

      Sickup Andfed - 2013-09-25 15:11

      Hans, the world has gone soft, these bleeding spineless liberals and human rights lot have lost the plot.

  • James Vandermerwe - 2013-09-25 13:08

    I would be proud if chemical weapons was used, and your 'friends'suffered before dying. That is what they deserve for killing at random.

  • Thabo Sti Wrx Impreza - 2013-09-25 13:13

    So what so what!! If they hav used a chemichal weapon to kill u hu cares what they used jerrrrr u guys hav a big mouth man u must goe to kenya or somewher visible n say that i mean i public stop this twiter shiit.yes chemichal is good to destroy u all of u muslams or al-shakaak u r not a prety good ppl @all.

  • Charles Everley - 2013-09-25 13:16

    SOOOO VERY TIRED of these muslim extremists causing trouble around the world !!!

  • Zaahid Appoles - 2013-09-25 13:18

    what hypocrits...... to murder and execute innocent people and then claim authorities used chemical weapons against them... :) #notinmyname

  • Elliot Menziwa - 2013-09-25 13:28

    Third world citiziens are not allowed by their corrupt governments to own guns ,,,look how long it took kenyan police to respond to a terror attact.30 minutes!.......something obama want to apply in the states

  • Emmanuel - 2013-09-25 13:31

    Chemical. wat is not?wat the terroris did was chemical.

  • Trevor Myburgh - 2013-09-25 13:33

    And they say they only attack non-Muslims, wow hat a statement.... Maybe they should try there S..h..i.t on the Cape Flats and see what our skollies will do to them. Bloody cowards

  • Faith Mthiyane - 2013-09-25 13:35

    There is something very long with these mujahedeen's. I can't believe that they are having the courage to blame Kenya government for using Chemical weapons...are they mad? How can they kill innocent people without a reason and start to blame Kenya government on use of chemical weapons. It is sickening. People of Kenya are in my prayers, may God strengthen them in this difficult time. Away with these evil jihadists who are monsters and liars, I wish one day they will realise that what they are doing is evil.

      Ntombizodwa Nongqawuza - 2013-09-25 13:49

      Good point faith. Al Shebaab's Al Qaeda cannibalisic affiliates in Syria also blamed Assad government for chemical weapons usage and Obama wanted and still wants to bomb Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons. Maybe Al Shebaab want Obama's help against Kenyan forces!

      Sickup Andfed - 2013-09-25 15:19

      @Faith, the only reason they are squeeling like pigs is they know there are softie human rights scum out there wanting to defending them.

  • Heaven Lee - 2013-09-25 13:36

    Are these Al-Shabaab fools hoping that Obama is going to jump in and help them like he wanted to do with their Al Qaeda-backed brethren in Syria?

  • Nathi Malume-GodFather Tshabalala - 2013-09-25 13:50

    These arabs need a drink, eat pork and have sex in and out of wedlock...clearly the current system is breeding extremists.

  • Ntombizodwa Nongqawuza - 2013-09-25 13:56

    Breaking news: Obama will be bombing Kenya soon for using chemical weapons against "its own people" and "innocent civilians"!

      Traz Onthis - 2013-09-25 14:11

      grow up

  • Bonginkosi Trinity Muthwa - 2013-09-25 14:23

    now right here in sa ,as a precautionary measure ,large malls especially those with jewish shareholders must not give tenancy to foreign muslims because even a small baby can see now sh#t is gonna happen here very soon .

  • Mundamurefu Tatora - 2013-09-25 15:18

    Last time I displayed a can Doom so the coackroaches could see. The next day I sprayed the coackroaches with a can full of water, guess what, they screamed, moaned and eventually all of them died, coz their minds where still filled with the knowledge that there is Doom in the hse! Beware terrorists, one of these days we shall be slaughtering you by just pointing a finger in your direction! God is Greater!

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