, NAIROBI, Sep 22 – An unknown number of hostages are still being held by Islamist gunmen who are locked in a stand-off with security forces inside Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, the Kenyan government said early on Sunday.
“Hostage numbers still unknown, but they are in several locations. No communication as yet. Upper levels (of the mall) have been secured,” the government’s National Disaster Operation Centre said in a situation update posted on Twitter.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said operations by security forces were continuing, 17 hours after the attack began and as dawn approached in the Kenyan capital.
Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, which Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said had left 39 dead and 150 more wounded.
“The work is continuing, but you cannot rush these things,” an army officer posted on the perimeter cordon said.
“Our teams are there, we are watching and monitoring, we will finish this as soon as we can.”
The government has in the meantime released phone numbers the public should call to report relatives who are still missing in the ingoing siege at Nairobi’s Westgate mall.
They can reach Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo on 0722-444-110, Nairobi Provincial Police Chief on 0714-563-332 or police headquarters on 020-310225, 020-3556780, 020-23532198, 020-2724154 and 020-355771.