Kenyatta’s nephew killed in mall massacre

Nairobi - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Sunday that a nephew and his fiancee were among the 59 people confirmed killed in an ongoing siege in an upmarket shopping mall by Somali militants.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. File photo: AP. Credit: Associated Press

“I feel the pain of every life we have lost, and share your grief at our nation's loss,” Kenyatta said, calling his killed relatives “young, lovely people I personally knew and loved.”

Somalia's al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels have said the carnage at the shopping complex was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.

“They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts,” Kenyatta said in an emotional speech to the nation.

“We will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully.”

More than 1 000 people have been rescued from the mall, but between 10 to 15 attackers - reportedly including both men and women - remain in the building “as well as many unarmed, badly shaken, innocent civilians”, Kenyatta added.

Interpol offered to send experts to investigate the deadly attack as well as help in arresting suspects.

The organisation based in Lyon, France, said it had “offered to deploy an Incident Response Team consisting of specialised forensic officers, counter-terrorism experts, operational assistants and analysts.”

It could “alert law enforcement around the world about the modus operandi behind the attacks... (or) seek the arrest of those wanted in connection with the incident,” a statement said.

“Any fingerprint and DNA evidence can also be compared against Interpol's global databases,” the statement said.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said it was the sort of strike called for recently by Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“The question for every country's law enforcement and security agency is: 'Could this kind of terrorist attack have occurred in our country?' The answer is a sobering 'Yes',” Noble said.

Zawahiri, in a speech marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, had vowed to “bleed America economically” by making it spend more money on security.

“And keeping America in tension and anticipation only costs a few disparate attacks here and there,” he said. - Sapa-AFP