Breaking News Explosions And Gun Shots In Wajir Town

There are reports of explosions and gunfire in the city of Wajir in Kenya.
The Kenya Disaster OpCentresaid on Twitter: “Receiving reports of explosions and sporadic gunfire in Wajir Town near the Catholic Mission. Awaiting confirmation from Wajir OCS.” It said that police are responding.
It added there “has been an explosion, precise location as yet unknown.”
Kenyan investigative reporter John-Allan Namualso reported that there were “two explosions” along with “short bursts of gunfire.”
Later, a Kenyan military commander, Isiaih Odhiambo, confirmed to NTV Kenyathat a “loud explosion” has taken place.
Wajir is a city in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, located around 100 miles from the Somali border. There are around 82,000 residents.
The reports come just days after assailants attacked a mall in Nairobi, killing dozens, in a several-day-long siege.

Kenyan Goverment Says besieged West Gate mall Is Under Control

Keny’s interior ministry has announced that troops are “in control” of the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, with all the hostages believed to have been freed after a deadly siege that killed at least 62 people.
A government spokesman told AFP news agency that the three-day-long siege was close to being declared over. He said special forces combing the building were no longer encountering any resistance.
“Our special forces are inside the building checking the rooms. We think that everyone, the hostages, have been evacuated, but we don’t want to take any chances,” Manoah Esipisu, a government spokesman, said.
“We’re in control of Westgate,” the interior ministry said in a message on Twitter.
Somali armed group, al-Shabab, has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that has also left almost 200 wounded.
Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, discusses the attacks in an exclusive interview
But in an exclusive interviewon Monday, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told Al Jazeera that that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack.
Al-Shabab was not acting alone and that it was part of an international terrorism campaign, Mohamed said.
She said that about 20 gunmen and women were behind the attack, and that both the victims and perpetrators came from a variety of nationalities.
In a speech on Monday, the Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, described Shabab as a threat to the world.
“They are a threat to the continent of Africa, and the world at large,” he said.
‘Despicable and beastly’
Al-Shabab and al-Qaeda announced their alliance in in February last year, and Abu Omar, a Somali-a-based al-Shabab commander, confirmed in an interview with Al Jazeerathat his group is taking orders from al-Qaeda.
Earlier on Monday, explosions and heavy gunfire were reported and also fires broke out as soldiers stormed the mall where suspected al-Shabaab fighters were believed to be holed up.
The siege began midday on Saturday, when the gunmen marched into the complex, firing grenades and automatic weapons and sending panicked shoppers fleeing.
At least 11 Kenyan troops were wounded in intense gun battles on Monday, the army said.
Police said they had also arrested more than 10 people for questioning.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose nephew was killed along with his fiancee, called the attack “despicable and beastly”.
Al-Shabab said the carnage was in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.
“If you want Kenya in peace, it will not happen as long as your boys are in our lands,” rebel spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement posted online.
Shocked witnesses said the gunmen tried to weed out non-Muslims for execution by interrogating people on their religion or asking them to recite the Muslim profession of faith.
The dead include six Britons, two French women, two Canadians including a diplomat, a Chinese woman, two Indians, a South Korean, a South African and a Dutch woman, according to their governments.
Also killed was Ghanaian poet and former UN envoy Kofi Awoonor, 78, while his son was injured.
World powers condemned the chilling attack, the worst in Nairobi since an al-Qaeda bombing at the US embassy killed more than 200 people in 1998.
US President Barack Obama called Kenyatta offering “whatever law enforcement support that is necessary”, calling the attack a “terrible outrage,” while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the violence was “totally reprehensible”.

Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed interview with al-Shabab’s spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab on West Gate Attack And More

Al-Shabab – the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist rebel group – has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The attack launched on Saturday on the upscaleWestgateshopping mall has killed at least 68 people and wounded more than 150 others. Heavy gunfire continued to ring out early Monday.
Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed interviewed al-Shabab’s spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, as the siege at the mall entered it’s third day.Abulazizspoke about why the group attacked Nairobi now. He also provided insight into al-Shabab’s relations with the Mombasa Youth Centre, a group the Kenyan government designated as a terrorist organisation.
Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, al-Shabab military operations spokesman
Al Jazeera: It is more than two years since Kenyan troops went into Somalia to fight al-Shabab. Why did al-Shabab attack Nairobi now?
Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab: We have been late in attacking Nairobi. We did not attack before because they were expecting us to attack. Our aim is to attack our enemy when they least expect us to attack. This time they were not expecting us to attack. We choose when to attack, and best time to attack.
AJ: Is this al-Shabab’s first attack in Nairobi?
SA: Thats not the importing thing. The important thing is it is us who attacked now. It is not important to say we attacked before or not.
AJ: This attack is happening at Westgate Mall, which, when the attack started, was full of shoppers. Why is al-Shabab attacking a place that is full of civilians?
SA: The place we attacked is Westgate shopping mall. It is a place where tourists from across the world come to shop, where diplomats gather. It is a place where Kenya’s decision-makers go to relax and enjoy themselves. Westgate is a place where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them.
On civilian deaths, Kenya should first be asked why they bombed innocent Somali civilians in refugee camps, why they bombed innocent people in Gedo and Jubba regions. They should be asked that first before us.
AJ: Al-Shabab claims to work to protect Muslims and Somalis in particular. Some of the people killed in this attack suggests otherwise.
SA: History supports our claim. We are the only ones protecting Somalis and Somalia. We are the only group fighting Somalia’s historic enemies. We are the only one who can say “no” to Somalis’ enemies.
On the loss of lives, there were Kenyan soldiers firing back at our fighters. There was an exchange of gunfire. There is no evidence it was our bullets that killed them.
Shoppers flee Nairobi’s Westgate Mall[Reuters]
We released all Muslims when we took control of the mall. Witnesses have backed us on this.
AJ: Do you think this attack will make Kenya withdraw its troops from Somalia?
SA: That question is not for us to answer. That is for the Kenyan government to answer. It is up to them to withdraw their soldiers or not. If they don’t withdraw, attacks like this will become common in Kenya. It is possible if they don’t withdraw attacks like this will happen in Kenyan cities and towns every day.
AJ: Before Kenyan troops went into Somalia in October 2011, what was al-Shabab’s relation with the Kenyan government?
SA: We always knew Kenya is the enemy of the Somali people. We knew this when we controlled the border towns. Kenya invading us was not unexpected. We don’t believe them and we dont trust them.
AJ: Kenya says it will go after the perpetrators of this attack and won’t stop until they are defeated. What do you say to that?
SA:We are not perpetrators. We are only defending ourselves and defending our rights, the rights of the Somali people.
Today no one has a worse criminal record than the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. He’s talking about tens of people killed at Westgate while he’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of people killed when he was running for the presidency. If Kenyans want to hold someone accountable for crimes they should first start with him.
AJ: Many, including the Somali and Kenyan governments, are saying al-Shabab targeting a place full of civilians is a sign of weakness, that al-Shabab is on the back foot and will soon be history. Is that the case?
SA: Whom are these people judging us? These people’s weakness is public for everyone to see. The Somali government is protected by tanks for them to stay in power. The Kenyans rely on foreign support, even to deal with a small matter like Westgate. They asked for Western support.
AJ: Finally, Kenya has designated the MombasaYouthCentre(MYC) as a terrorist organisation. The group has on many occasions endorsed al-Shabab. What is al-Shabab’s relationship with MYC?
SA: The relations between MYC and us are the same relations between Muslims. They are our Muslim brothers. Islam is our common relation, and they have the same right from us like any other Muslim

Kenya forces ‘clearing’ Westgate Mall As Rescue Mission On Going

Kenyan security forces say they are attempting to clear the Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi in order to bring to an end the three-day siege.
Explosions and heavy gunfire were reported earlier as soldiers stormed the mall, where suspected al-Shabab militants are thought to be holed up.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said three “terrorists” had been killed and all escape routes sealed off.
Flames and thick smoke are continuing to rise from the building.

The KDF said the fire had been started by “terrorists to distract the ongoing operation”, and that the blaze was being managed by firefighters.

A number of countries are believed to have offered assistance to the Kenyan authorities currently dealing with the siege at the Westgate Mall.
Kenya is seen as a largely pro-Western country in a strategically important continent that is facing growing instability from the threat of Islamic extremism.
Western interests in Kenya have also been targets in the past – most notably the 1998 attack on the US embassy in Nairobi carried out by al-Qaeda.
However, at present, Kenya’s forces are taking the lead in the hostage crisis. If there is any involvement by foreign nations, it’s likely to be in a purely advisory role. It has already been reported that Israeli “security specialists” are on the ground in Nairobi giving advice, although this has not officially been confirmed.
Even if foreign forces are giving advice or even more, the Kenyan authorities are unlikely to want to give the impression that they cannot deal with this crisis themselves.
The official death toll stands at 62 and more than 170 have been injured.
The Somali Islamist al-Shabab movement has said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Nairobi says the number of militants involved in the attack was put at between 10 and 15, and officials say some of them are still on the run, hiding in shops.

The Kenyan government says almost all the hostages have been evacuated from the Westgate shopping centre – but it is not clear whether any are still in the hands of the militants.
And that may be one of the reasons the authorities say they are still moving cautiously, trying to ensure that there is no further loss of life, our correspondent says.
The KDF said 10 bodies had been retrieved from the building in the last 24 hours. More than 200 civilians have been rescued, 65 of whom remain in hospital.
Eleven KDF soldiers were injured during the operation, it said.
Earlier, police used tear gas to disperse crowds of onlookers gathered close to the Westgate Centre.
The Interior Ministry is issuing regular warnings for people to stay away for their own safety.
Security has also been stepped up at entrance and exit points across the country, with “more than 10 individuals” arrested in relation to the attack, the ministry said.
However, it did not specify when or where the arrests were made.
Thick black smoke started billowing from the building shortly after blasts were heard
The Kenyan interior minister said security forces were gaining an advantage over the militants
Kenyan police officers took position around the Westgate Shopping Centre
Police fired tear gas to try to disperse crowds of onlookers near the centre.
Repeated threats
More than 1,000 people were inside the mall complex when the attack began on Saturday.
Dr Sunil Sachdeva, a dentist who runs a clinic inside the mall, described the scene as the attack unfolded.
“There was a tent where a cookery competition for children was carrying on and there were bodies lying under there,” he told the BBC

The Black Window Might Be Part Of Kenya’s West Gate Mall Terror Attack

Samantha Lewthwaite is the widow of the July 7, 2007 London bomber Germaine Lindsay,
Intelligence and security services are investigating whether the suspected “white widow” terrorist, Samantha Lewthwaite, was involved in the terrorist attack at a Kenya shopping centre.
Lewthwaite, the British widow of the July 7, 2007 London bomber Germaine Lindsay, is already suspected of plotting to attack venues popular with westerners in Kenya and is in hiding.
She was accused of being part of a terrorist cell that allegedly involved other Britons and has been linked with the terrorist group al-Shabaab.
Concerns over her possible involvement grew on Sunday night amid reports that at least one of the attackers was a woman and others were white. Security sources in Britain and Kenya said there was no intelligence to suggest she was among the attackers but it could not be “completely discounted” yet.
The terrorists threw grenades and fired on civilians at Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 68 and wounding 205 in one of the most chilling terrorist attacks in East Africa since al-Qaeda blew up two US embassies in 1998.
Kenya has had a long struggle against terrorism and serious crime, especially because of its border with Somalia, the stronghold of al-Shabaab. The Nairobi attack is the latest in a series to involve Britons as victims or suspects. As a result, Britain and Kenya’s security and intelligence services have strong links.
Al-Shabaab is also known to attract foreign jihadists and considers Kenya a target because of its military involvement in Somalia to combat terrorism.
Lewthwaite evaded Kenyan authorities after she was accused of being involved in a cell that planned to attack a hotel or a shopping mall in 2011. Reports have also suggested she joined forces with al-Shabaab. She was charged by the Kenyans on terrorism charges in her absence.
Another Briton in the alleged cell, Jermaine Grant, from Newham, east London, was held and is facing allegations of possessing explosives and plotting bomb attacks in a trial in Mombasa.
A third Briton accused alongside the two, Habib Ghani, is thought to have been killed in a feud with al-Shabaab earlier this month. Reports suggested that Ghani recently married Lewthwaite