Fresh gunshots were heard from the upscale mall in Kenya’s capital Wednesday morning, the day after the president declared an end to a four-day siege by Islamic militants.
Government spokesman Manoah Esipisu told The Associated Press the shots came from Kenyan forces going room to room in the large Westgate Mall, firing protectively before entering unknown territory.
“During sanitization once you take control of the place if you go to a room where you haven’t visited before you shoot first to make sure you aren’t walking into an ambush,” he said. “But there hasn’t been any gunfire from the terrorists for more than 36 hours.”
However ,on condition of anonymity , a top security official, said even around the time President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation in a televised address that “we have ashamed and defeated our attackers” on Tuesday night, three shots rang out at the mall.
He said Kenyan authorities are still trying to determine where those shots came from.
Meanwhile, Al Shabab militants say they are still holding hostages alive inside the mall and that its fighters are “still holding their ground.” The Twitter messages posted Tuesday by the al-Qaida-linked rebel group al-Shabab came after Kenyan government assurances of success in the fourth-day of the standoff.
Al-Shabab says the hostages “are still alive, looking quite disconcerted but, nevertheless, alive.” A security expert with contacts inside said Monday night there were at least 30 hostages when the assault began Saturday and at least 10 were believed to be still inside the upscale mall.