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Explosions, Gunfire and Smoke as Siege in Nairobi Continues

Reports of chaos continue from Kenya as shopping mall massacre enters third day

Common Dreams staff

With details and verifiable reports still hard to come by about what is going on inside, the violence at the Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya continued into its third day on Monday with the latest news being a report of heavy gunfire and possible explosions from inside with plumes of black smoke then seen rising from the building.

Some outlets and reports from the scene indicate that a fire has been set, possibly by some of the remaining gunmen—allegedly al-Shabaab fighters upset by Kenya's military intervention in neighboring Somalia—who first laid siege to the complex on Saturday.

As Reuters reports:

Thick smoke poured from the besieged Nairobi mall where Kenyan officials said their forces were closing in on Islamists holding hostages on Monday, three days after a raid by Somalia's al Shabaab killed at least 62 people.

It remained unclear how many gunmen and hostages were still cornered in the Westgate shopping center, two hours after a series of loud explosions and gunfire were followed by a plume of black smoke, that grew in volume from one part of the complex.

Outside the mall, The Guardian's Guy Alexander described a scene of chaos as police tried to clear onlookers from the area:

Responding to rumours that other al-Shabaab units maybe joining and hiding themselves amongst the crowds, Kenyan security services have tried to clear onlookers and members of the public from around the mall, he says. In doing this, they have fired tear gas creating even more scenes of chaos.

He also reports that the shooting has stopped but a towering plume of black smoke is still rising from the mall. Alexander does not believe that the smoke is related to security service action but instead believes that a large explosion had come from inside the building.

"It's not easing up," he added.

On Twitter, events seemed to be unfolding rapidly:


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