Stand-off at Kenyan shopping centre enters fourth day

Islamist militants said Tuesday they were still holding hostages as Kenyan troops battled for a fourth day to end the bloody siege at a Nairobi shopping centre, AFP reports.

Sporadic gunfire at the upmarket Westgate mall broke out again at dawn, hours after officials claimed Kenyan troops had wrested back “control” of the sprawling complex from Somalia’s Shebab insurgents, who are said to include Americans and a British woman.

At least 62 shoppers and staff have been killed and close to 200 wounded in the siege, but concerns are high that the toll may yet rise, with the Shebab boasting about “countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall”.

However, Kenyan officials have said all the hostages are believed to have been freed, with the interior ministry saying Tuesday that the assault was “very near the end.”

Security sources said “one or two” militants were barricaded in or around a casino on one of the upper floors of the complex.

Shebab fighters stormed the crowded mall midday on Saturday, tossing grenades, firing automatic weapons and sending panicked shoppers fleeing, according to AFP.

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