FBI agents work in nightmarish scene at Kenya mall

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email
Working near bodies crushed by rubble in a bullet-scarred, scorched mall, FBI agents began fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis Wednesday to help determine the identities and nationalities of victims and al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the shopping center, killing more than 60 people.

Mary Italo, center, grieves with other relatives for her son Thomas Abayo Italo, 33, who was killed in the Westgate Mall attack, as they wait to receive his body at the mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Thomas was an accountant and the breadwinner of the family who helped look after Mary who is sick, according to relatives. Kenyan authorities prepared for the gruesome task of recovering dozens more victims than initially feared after the country's president declared an end Tuesday to the four-day siege of the Nairobi mall by al-Qaida-linked terrorists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

NAIROBI, Kenya Working near bodies crushed by rubble in a bullet-scarred, scorched mall, FBI agents began fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis Wednesday to help determine the identities and nationalities of victims and al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the shopping center, killing more than 60 people.

A gaping hole in the mall's roof was caused by Kenyan soldiers who fired rocket-propelled grenades inside, knocking out a support column, a government official said. The official, who insisted he not be identified because he was sharing security information, said the soldiers fired to distract a terrorist sniper so hostages could be evacuated.

The current death toll is 67 and is likely to climb with uncounted bodies remaining in the wreckage of the Nairobi mall. Another 175 people were injured, including more than 60 who remain hospitalized. At least 18 foreigners were among those killed.

Al-Shabab, the Somali Islamic extremist group which carried out the attack, said Wednesday that foreigners were a "legitimate target" and confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free. The others were gunned down or taken hostage.

"The Mujahideen carried out a meticulous vetting process at the mall and have taken every possible precaution to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar (disbelievers) before carrying out their attack," the group said in an email exchange with The Associated Press.

Witnesses have told AP and other media that gunmen rounded up people, asked questions about Islam that a Muslim would know and told the Muslims to leave the mall. Still, some Muslims were among the victims.

Also among those killed when the militants entered the Westgate Mall on Saturday, firing assault rifles and throwing grenades were six Britons and citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China.

Asked if al-Shabab had intended to kill foreigners, the group said "our target was to attack the Kenyan govt on it's soil and any part of the Kenyan territory is a legitimate target ... and Kenya should be held responsible for the loss of life, whether foreigners or local."

Al-Shabab had threatened retaliation against Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia against al-Shabab, and many of those killed in an attack that horrified the world were Kenyans.

Though Kenya's foreign minister earlier said that "two or three" American citizens may have been involved in the attack, a Western official said that after checking passport and refugee databases, there is not yet an indication any Americans were involved. Several U.S. cities, notably Minneapolis, host large Somali-American communities.


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