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The Edge of Terrorism

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Israeli Special Forces Enter Nairobi Mall to End Massacre

September 22nd 2013

Hellicopter & troops

Israeli forces on Sunday joined Kenyan efforts to end a deadly siege by Somali militants at a Nairobi shopping mall, a security source has told AFP. "The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured," the source told AFP on condition he not be named. In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson refused to confirm or deny that its forces were involved. "We don't make a habit of commenting on security cooperation of any kind that there may or may not be," he told AFP. The attack on the part Israeli-owned upmarket mall has left at least 59 dead and around 200 wounded, Kenyan officials said. The intervention came 26 hours after gunmen walked into the complex, tossing grenades and spraying gunfire at shoppers and staff. Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The hostage crisis passed the 24-hour mark and fears rose of a protracted standoff with terrorists using hostages as pawns. Kenyan security forces were seen entering Westgate Mall with at least two rocket-propelled grenades, heavy weaponry for a potential indoor battle with hostages present. Elite military units were inside the Westgate mall, and volleys of gunfire continued into the afternoon Sunday. Two wounded Kenyan soldiers were seen being carried out of the mall in the morning. Kenyan security officials didn't – or couldn't – say how many people the estimated 10 to 15 terrorists were holding hostage. Kenya's Red Cross said in a statement citing police that 49 people had been reported missing. Officials did not make an explicit link but that number could form the basis of the number of people held hostage.

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