On Saturday, al-Shabaab, and Islamic terrorist group from Somalia, seized control of a Kenyan shopping mall. Reports state that the goal of the attack was to target non-Muslims. Early reports stated that 39 people were killed in the attack, including several Americans.
The Kenyan government has been working around the clock since Saturday to take control of the situation and to save any hostages that are still within the building. Early reports on Sunday stated that "most" hostages have been saved from the mall. When questioned about specific numbers of hostages who have been rescued versus how many remain in the mall, however, Kenyan officials cannot provide any answers: "We are yet to get confirmation from what's happening in the building," stated Col. Cyrus Oguna, a Kenyan military spokesman.
Despite warnings that al-Shabaab would “take punitive action against the hostages” if force was used to try to rescue them, the Kenyan military launched a full-force military assault against the terrorists at sundown on Sunday. This morning at daybreak, several helicopters circled the roof of the building and were met by gunfire, indicating that there were still gunmen on the loose and that the situation was not quite yet under control.
Kenyan officials have stated that they will try to save all hostages to the best of their abilities, yet their transparency concerning how many hostages have and have not been saved still remains unclear. Official reports that "most" hostages have been saved have not been corroborated by any evidence. In fact, there is good evidence to the opposite. A person with intimate knowledge of the rescue operations, who asked to remain anonymous, told AP reporters that no hostages had been removed from the building yet. The Red Cross has also reported that no hostages have been brought to the triage station they have erected next to the mall, despite reports that 49 people are missing.
President Obama offered the support of the United States today, stating "We will provide them with whatever law enforcement support that is necessary. And we are confident that Kenya will continue to be a pillar of stability in Eastern Africa." Kenya was part of an operation conducted by African Union forces, in which the goal was to stabilize civil unrest in Somalia - the operation which al-Shabaab stated as the reason for their attack.
President Obama will need to keep a close eye on the situation seeing as some of the terrorists responsible for the attack have identified themselves as Americans via Twitter. Two members stated that they hailed from St. Paul, Minnesota, home to the second largest population of Somalis in the world. This news comes as a blow to American terrorism progress following reports earlier this month that the second most dangerous American terrorist of all-time, Omar Hammami, had died.
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