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Standoff, Gunfire Continue At Nairobi Mall

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. A deadly standoff in Nairobi, Kenya is far from over. A terrorist attack on an upscale mall yesterday left at least 59 people dead, hundreds wounded. An unknown number of gunmen and hostages are still inside the mall. NPR's Gregory Warner reports.

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: The Kenyan interior minister, Joseph Ole Lenku, now confirms that 10 to 15 gunmen stormed Westgate Mall from both entrances. Minister Ole Lenku said Kenyan police and special forces now inside the mall had pinned down the gunmen and the closed circuit cameras, which had not been working, were now switched on.

JOSEPH OLE LENKU: We have established and confirmed the locations of the criminals but will not give you the details for the purposes of security operation. We are determined and want to assure the families of those who are still in the building that the government will go out of its way to make sure that we don't lose innocent life.

WARNER: An American official in a confidential email put the number of hostages still trapped inside at up to three dozen. A representative for the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants told NPR that al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on the mall popular with foreigners. Top Muslim leadership in Kenya condemned the attack but urged Kenyans not to react with violence. Somali immigrants have already reported being attacked on the street in the Somali neighborhood known as Little Mogadishu. Yesmin Hersiwas one of several Somali Muslims who died in the attack on Westgate Mall. His cousin Ali Hussein had come to hospital to pick up his body.

ALI HUSSEIN: We are coming to collect a Muslim brother of ours. We believe they are the ones who killed him. There's no point of segregating people from between religions.

WARNER: He said his cousin had come to Nairobi fleeing al-Shabab, the militants who killed him. The young immigrant had just married and looked forward to learning Swahili, the Kenyan mother tongue. Gregory Warner, NPR News, Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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