Kenyan anti-tank rocket ended siege

2013-09-27 22:41
Kenya mall attack. (AP)

Kenya mall attack. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - The final stand of Islamist fighters who laid siege to Kenya's Westgate mall ended when Kenyan soldiers fired an anti-tank shell that sparked a fierce fire, soldiers who fought in the battle told AFP.

The gunmen, who were holed up in a strong room in a supermarket, were killed when soldiers fired two bazooka shells, two soldiers who were both at the battle's end told AFP separately.

"In the end we had to use full force, we had to finish with these guys," said one member of the elite force, who said that during the bitter fighting he saw the insurgents only once.

The fighters, from Somalia's al-Qaeda linked Shabaab, stormed the part Israeli-owned complex at midday Saturday, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff.

But the attackers then retreated to a safe room on the first floor of the Westgate supermarket, according to the descriptions provided separately by the two soldiers.

From there, they held out against the Kenyan troops.

Two Kenyan commandos leading the assault were killed while trying to force open the door of the strongroom.

They were shot by a fighter with a heavy machine gun, in an elevated site where he acted like a sniper, blocking the commandos from moving forward, said the other soldier.

"We don't know how many they were inside the safe room. I never saw them," the soldier said, claiming that he did not know if any hostages were with the attackers.

Fired 84mm shells

Finally around midday on Monday, the soldiers brought in heavy weaponry.

They fired 84mm shells from a recoilless rifle - or shoulder-held bazooka - whose sharply pointed tips are designed to piece armour plating, before exploding and causing a fire.

A few minutes later, thick black smoke rose above the rooftop car park, above the first floor of the supermarket.

At the time, government officials said the fire had been caused by burning mattresses torched by the gunmen to provide a distraction.

About 24 hours later and weakened by the flames the rear part collapsed, with several cars tumbling down into the gaping hole created.

"It was the only option," said one of the soldiers. "Sometimes you're supposed to use deadly force to save other lives," he said, conceding that his could have resulted in "collateral damage" to any hostages present.

The siege was declared finally over on Tuesday evening.

Read more on:    kenya  |  kenya mall attack  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.