An attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, ended Tuesday, four days after gunmen killed at least 61 civilians in the mall and took control of the building.
Kenyan forces killed five terrorists at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, and authorities have arrested 11 others for possible ties to the attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday in a televised speech. "We have ashamed and defeated our attackers," he said.
Three floors of the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi collapsed during the effort to clear terrorists from it, trapping some bodies inside, Kenyatta said. At last count, the families of 65 people still unaccounted for didn't know whether their loved ones escaped safely, were hiding somewhere in the vast mall or might be among the dozens killed by the terrorists.
Six Kenyan soldiers died in the effort to clear Westgate Mall in Nairobi of terrorists, Kenyatta said.
Gunman stormed the upscale shopping mall Saturday, killing at least 61 civilians and wounding 175. (Sixty-nine deaths were previously reported, but the Kenya Red Cross revised that number Monday.) About 30 hostages were being held over the weekend, but by late Monday, authorities believed they had all been released.
Most of the casualties are Kenyan, authorities said. But the mall is popular with expatriates and foreign nationals, and those killed include six British citizens, two French nationals, two Indians and two Canadians, including a diplomat, their governments said. Several American citizens were among the wounded.
Also, the Ghana president's office said Kofi Awoonor, a poet and Ghanian statesman, was among those killed in the attack.
The attack Saturday targeted a popular weekend meeting spot. Kenyans and expatriates gather at the luxurious Westgate Shopping Mall on weekends to drink lattes, catch a movie or browse through the more than 80 stores.
The calm was shattered around noon local time Saturday. Gunshots erupted as shoppers picked up groceries, savored lunch and browsed through the racks at stores.
Witnesses said they started hearing gunfire and then saw grenades and tear gas as they took shelter, hiding in various parts of the mall until they could escape.
But survivors said as they tried to exit, it was hard to tell who they could trust or whether it was actually safe to leave.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said authorities believe 10 to 15 gunmen were involved.
The tragedy was personal for Kenyatta: his nephew and the nephew's fiancee were among the dead.
"They shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully," Kenyatta said.
Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia, claimed responsibility and said it was not backing down.
Before its Twitter account was suspended, Al-Shabaab issued a list of nine names it said were among the attackers. It said there were three from the United States, two from Somalia and one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom. Authorities were still trying to verify those claims, though Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told "PBS NewsHour" two of the attackers were from Minnesota and one was from Missouri.
Speaking Tuesday on CNN's "New Day," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he and other U.S. officials are concerned about the possibility of Americans going to Somalia, becoming terrorists and then returning home to engage in further mayhem. However, he believed the risk of a similar mall attack in the U.S. was small.
Al-Shabaab is a Somalian group that was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government in March 2008. It is seeking to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, which published a backgrounder on the group in July.
The once ragtag Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate has grown into an economic powerhouse, raising tens of millions of dollars in cash from schemes that have involved extortion, illegal taxation and other "fees," according to the 2011 United Nations report.
The total size of Al-Shabaab is not clear. A U.S. official who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information said in 2011 that Al-Shabaab was estimated to control up to 1,000 fighters in the country.
In a message on Al-Shabaab's now suspended Twitter feed, the group said "all Muslims" were escorted from the mall before the attack.
Al-Shabaab said on Twitter that it had sent the gunmen to the mall in retaliation for Kenya's role in an African Union military effort against the group, which is al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia.
Since Kenya launched attacks against Al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2011, the group has hurled grenades at Kenyan churches, bus stops and other public places.
The Westgate shooting was the deadliest terror attack in Kenya since al Qaeda blew up the U.S. Embassy there in 1998, killing 213 people.
Several Kenyan agencies made a plea for blood donations. "Hospitals are appealing for more blood, the response is incredible but more is needed," tweeted Francis Kimemia, secretary to the Cabinet.
The U.S. Embassy asked personnel to stay in place Sunday and avoid the Westgate Mall area and any large gatherings.
All U.S. citizens in Kenya are urged to register online so the embassy can provide them with updated information on travel and security -- and can contact them in case of emergency.
Hundreds of immigrant children are currently being housed at Port Hueneme Naval Base. When the temporary immigrant shelter opened at the base it was supposed to only be here for 120 days, but this week the Defense Department decided to keep the shelter open at least through January of 2015.