More than 20 people, including children, are reportedly dead after militant gunmen stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, early Saturday, sending panicked shoppers running into the streets, Reuters reports, citing witnesses’ accounts and the Red Cross.
Kenyan officials blamed the attack on the Somali militant group al Shabaab, saying members had threatened to strike Westgate, a mall popular among city’s wealthy expatriates. But Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said it was too early to draw conclusions.
Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside the Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya’s biggest chains.
It was the single largest attack since 1998, when al Qaeda’s east Africa cell bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, killing more than 200 people, Reuters reports. The same militant cell attacked an Israeli-owned hotel in 2002 and tried to strike an Israeli jet.
Read more at Reuters.