Islamist militants who have killed at least 62 people in a Nairobi shopping centre are reported to be “running and hiding” in stores as security forces close in.
Kenyan police said three terrorists had been killed and others were injured after the military launched a major assault.
Eleven soldiers from the Kenyan Defence Force were also wounded in the fighting, and more than 10 people have been arrested over Saturday’s attack by al Qaeda-linked insurgents.
Interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku said there was “no way out” for the militants in the three-day-long siege and “no room for escape”.
Aerial view of the smoke rising from the shopping centre
He claimed security forces were in control of all floors of the four-storey building following the weekend raid by gunmen from Somali militant group al Shabaab.
correspondent Stuart Ramsay, reporting from the scene, said a policeman told him Kenyan forces were still fighting around six or seven gunmen in the Westgate Shopping Mall.
Mr Lenku said most hostages had been freed, without giving specific numbers, and police reported more than 200 civilians had been rescued. Some 63 people are still missing.
Six British nationals are believed to have been killed in the terror attack. Among the dead was Ross Langdon, who had dual Australian nationality.
The 33-year-old architect died alongside his Dutch wife Eliv Yavus who was pregnant and due to give birth in two weeks.
Colleagues of Mr Langdon told Sky News: “We were shocked at the news. Ross was the kind of guy who restored your faith in humanity – what a senseless waste.”
Around lunchtime, four huge explosions were heard followed by a barrage of gunfire at the shopping complex in the Kenyan capital.
Black smoke poured from the top of the building as troops lay siege to the mall while military and police helicopters circled above.
Kenyan troops take cover as they await developments
Security officials at the scene said the explosions had been caused by Kenyan forces who set off blasts to get in through the roof.
However, Mr Lenku said the smoke had been down to the al Shabaab fighters setting fire to mattresses as a decoy.
“We think the operation will come to an end soon,” he told a news conference. “We are in control of all the floors, the terrorists are running and hiding in some stores … there is no room for escape.”
He also said all the attackers were men, after witnesses had reported seeing women brandishing guns in the atrocity.
But three sources, one an intelligence officer and two soldiers, told Reuters that one of the killed attackers was a white woman.
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