Bloomberg News

Kenya Works With Interpol to Identify Shopping Mall Attackers

September 26, 2013

Kenyan authorities are sharing a list of suspects with the international police agency, Interpol, to help track down those involved in the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall in which at least 72 people died.

“Details of arrested individuals and any other suspects linked to the attack are running through Interpol’s database for potential leads,” the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre said today on its Twitter account.

Kenyan forensic investigators at the scene of the raid are being assisted by experts from Israel, the U.S., Germany, Canada and Britain in a probe that’s expected to last at least a week, according to Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku.

The government has said it doesn’t expect the death toll to rise significantly. Authorities are sifting through the rubble after three floors in the Westgate Mall collapsed following blasts and a fire that broke out during the four-day standoff. An unknown number of people were held captive or in hiding during the assault.

The attack was the deadliest since al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi in August 1998, killing 213 people. Al-Shabaab, the Somali-based Islamist militia that claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 raid, had threatened to strike after Kenya deployed troops in Somalia in October 2011 to fight the militants, blaming them for a series of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya. The al-Qaeda-affiliated group denied the accusations. The dead include 61 civilians, six security officers and five assailants.

More Bloodshed

Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane, in a message posted online, said his fighters carried out the mall attack, and warned of “more bloodshed” unless Kenya withdraws its forces from Somalia.

Kenyan security forces used armored vehicles and weapons including heavy machine guns to end the assault. The Kenya Red Cross said that 71 people were missing as of Sept. 24.

There is “increased public anxiety on account of missing persons, the disruption caused by the continued crisis and inadequate information flow,” the Red Cross said today. Ole Lenku said in an interview today that the government’s estimate of the death toll “has not changed” since Sept. 24.

Two Kenyan police officers were killed and one was wounded in an attack today on a county-government office in northeastern Mandera, near the Somali border, the Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account. In Wajir, also in the northeast, one person died and four were injured from a grenade blast in a market yesterday, it said.

Kenyan Stability

Kenya’s relative stability in a troubled region has attracted companies including Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), International Business Machines Corp., General Electric Corp. and Google Inc. (GOOG:US) to set up bases in the East African nation. The United Nations’ African headquarters are also in Nairobi.

The attack may curb government revenue and is “credit negative,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a Credit Outlook report today. The biggest impact on the country’s economic growth will be on its tourism industry, which accounts for 12.5 percent of gross domestic product, it said.

The shilling advanced for a third day, strengthening 0.2 percent to 87 per dollar by 2:27 p.m. and heading for its strongest close since July 19. The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s FTSE NSE 25 Index gained 0.8 percent to 166.53.

Lunchtime Attack

The attack began around lunchtime when as many as 15 gunmen stormed the upscale mall, throwing hand grenades, firing automatic weapons and forcing panicked patrons to flee the building or hide inside the more than 80 shops in the complex. The government said more than 1,000 people were rescued.

Investigators are trying to confirm the nationalities of the attackers, Ole Lenku said. Kenyan Foreign Secretary Amina Mohamed said on Sept. 23 that two or three Americans and a female British citizen participated in the attack. A British national has been arrested in Kenya, according to a statement e-mailed yesterday by the U.K. Foreign Office.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that investigators haven’t confirmed claims that Americans participated in the attack. “At this point, we don’t have any verification that any Americans have been involved in the attack as attackers,” he told reporters in Washington.

Citizens from the U.K., India, France, Canada, South Africa, China and Ghana are among the dead.

Troop Commitment

African leaders remain committed to continue battling al-Shabaab’s forces in Somalia, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said in a statement on its website.

The continental body will “continue its efforts in Somalia, in order to rid the country and the region of terrorist and criminal groups, and bring about lasting peace, security and stability in Somalia,” it said.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s government since at least 2006. The militant group claimed responsibility in July 2010 for coordinated bomb attacks in neighboring Uganda that killed 76 people watching the soccer World Cup final at two venues. Al-Shabaab said it targeted Uganda because the country had troops serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia.

The African Union has a more than 17,000-member peacekeeping force in Somalia that includes the Kenyan troops.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Malingha Doya in Nairobi at dmalingha@bloomberg.net; Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net


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