(Corrects attribution in paragraphs 3 and 4 to volunteer, not
* Somali Islamist group al Shabaab claims attack
* Al Shabaab tells Kenya to pull its troops from Somalia
* Gunmen barricaded in supermarket in blood-stained mall
* Presidency says one gunman captured, dies of wounds
By Edmund Blair and James Macharia
NAIROBI, Sept 21 Gunmen stormed a shopping mall
in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 30
people including children and sending scores fleeing in panic,
in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab.
Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops
surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the
building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer
inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a
Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains.
"We got three bodies from this shop," said volunteer Vipool
Shah, 64, standing a dozen metres from the supermarket entrance
and pointing to a children's shoe shop where blood lay in pools.
Shah turned to a nearby hamburger bar where piped music
still played and food lay abandoned. "And a couple of bodies
Al Shabaab, which is battling Kenyan and other African
peacekeepers in Somalia, had repeatedly threatened attacks on
Kenyan soil if Nairobi does not pull its troops out of the Horn
of Africa country.
"The Kenyan govt (government) is pleading with our
Mujahideen (holy warriors) inside the mall for negotiations,"
the group said on its official Twitter handle @HSM_Press. "There
will be no negotiations whatsoever at #Westgate."
Another al-Shabaab tweet read: "For long we have waged war
against the Kenyans in our land, now it's time to shift the
battleground and take the war to their land."
The assault was the single biggest attack in Kenya since al
Qaeda's east Africa cell bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in
1998, killing more than 200 people. In 2002, the same militant
cell attacked an Israeli-owned hotel and tried to shoot down an
Israeli jet in a coordinated attack.
The Kenyan presidency said on its Twitter feed that one
wounded gunman had been arrested, but had died in hospital.
The U.S. State Department said it had reports that American
citizens had been injured.
Tiles at the mall were smeared with blood, bullet casings
were strewn on the floor and shop windows were shattered. A
policeman dragged the corpse of a young girl across the floor
and laid her on a stretcher. Two policemen lay on the floor with
guns trained on the supermarket entrance.
Some local television stations reported hostages had been
taken, but there was no official confirmation.
Kenyan forces first entered Somalia two years ago to try to
stem incursions by al Qaeda-linked militants.
Al Shabaab, which Kenya blames for shootings, bombings and
grenade attacks against churches and the security forces, had
threatened before to strike Westgate, a mall popular with the
city's expatriates, as well as other soft targets such as
nightclubs and hotels known to be popular with Westerners.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said it was too early
to draw conclusions. "We don't have any proof that the people
who did this are Somali," he told Reuters in Washington.
One woman leaving the building told a journalist that one of
the attackers had told all Muslims to leave the area. Survivors
told Reuters at least one of the attackers was a woman.
Police helicopters circled above shortly after the initial
assault as armed police shouted "Get out! Get out!" and scores
of shoppers fled the sand-coloured stone building. Smoke poured
from one entrance and witnesses said they heard grenade blasts.
Others said they saw about five assailants storm the mall.
The shopping centre includes a number of Israeli-owned
businesses, though it was not immediately clear if these had
been targeted specifically. At least four Israeli nationals
escaped the assault, one with light wounds.
"As of now, this appears to be an internal Kenyan incident,
that is, a terrorist attack but not one that specifically
targeted Israelis," an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
One eyewitness who identified himself as Taha said he had
heard the screech of brakes followed moments later by an
explosion, and then sustained gunfire from the ground floor.
Satpal Singh, 36, who was in a cafe on the mall's top floor,
said he ran downstairs when he heard the gunfire and was shot at
near the mall's main exit.
"A Somali guy shot at me. The guy who shot me was carrying a
rifle, an AK-47."
Some shoppers ran up stairs and escalators and hid around
the mall's cinema complex. Police found another terrified group
hiding in a toilet on the first floor.
Some wounded were wheeled out on stretchers and shopping
trolleys. Other walked out, some with bloodied clothing wrapped
around wounds. Dozens of wounded were ferried away by ambulance.
"So far we have 30 dead at the mall," said Kenyan Red Cross
Secretary General Abbas Guled. He added he expected more wounded
Police cordoned off the roads surrounding the mall in
central Nairobi's Westlands neighbourhood.
"I personally touched the eyes of four people and they were
dead. One of them was a child," said one former British soldier
at the scene. "It's carnage up there."
(Additional reporting by James Macharia, Richard Lough,
Humphrey Malalo and Njuwa Maina in Nairobi, Dan Williams in
Jerusalem, Kevin Liffey in London and Lesley Wroughton and Paul
Eckert in Washington; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Kevin