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Nairobi mall searched for bodies

Source BBC News@

Footage has emerged which shows the extent the of destruction to Nairobi's Westgate mall

Kenyan and foreign forensics teams are searching the Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi amid uncertainty over how many bodies they may find following the four-day siege by Islamist militants.

Sixty-seven people are so far known to have died.

Kenya's interior minister has said he does not expect the toll to rise significantly, and believes only the bodies of militants will be found.

But Kenya's Red Cross has said at least 50 people remain unaccounted for.

Meanwhile Kenya is continuing three days of official mourning for both the civilian and military victims of the siege.

The funeral of pregnant television and radio star Ruhila Adatia was one of many being held on Thursday.

Flags are flying at half past amid visibly tighter security around the Kenyan capital. Security guards were scanning passengers with metal detectors before they boarded buses.

Amid rising concern among Kenyans over the authorities' preparedness for such an attack, reports are emerging that the country's counter-terrorism strategy and its disaster response coordination will now be reviewed.

Westgate shopping mall on 26 September 2013Smoke still rises from the Westgate shopping mall, two days after the siege ended

Troops enter the Westgate mall on 26 September 2013Foreign investigators have joined their Kenyan counterparts to comb the shopping mall for evidence

Mary Italo mourns the death of her son, Nairobi, 25 September 2013Relatives have been identifying the bodies of those killed in the attack

Alyaz Merali, who was injured in the attack, 25 September 2013Alyaz Merali, wounded in the attack, took part in a funeral procession for his mother, who was killed

Kenyan investigators have been joined by experts from the US, UK, Germany, Canada and Interpol to comb the sprawling shopping complex for DNA, fingerprints and ballistic clues.

"We have moved to the next phase," Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told a news briefing on Wednesday, saying that he expected the forensic audit to take at least seven days.

He confirmed that five militants were dead and said he expected "insignificant numbers of bodies" would be found amid the rubble after three floors of the building collapsed.


It is likely to be a slow process, as forensic experts from Britain, America, Israel, Germany and Canada search for clues to reveal the identity and nationalities of the gunmen.

The Kenyan government says their work has begun inside the battered and bloodied walls of the Westgate mall. Following the collapse of part of the building it is believed that that there are still bodies under the rubble - possibly some of the militants.

The global policing body, Interpol, is also involved in piecing together how this devastating attack took place.

At other high profile institutions in Nairobi, also considered potential targets, security has been stepped up and searches are more thorough. But much more is needed to ensure another large-scale attack cannot happen. A radical overhaul of Kenya's security apparatus is needed.

But this runs contrary to the Kenyan Red Cross which, until Wednesday, had listed 71 people as missing.

Work is continuing to establish the identities of the deceased militants, including whether one was a woman.

But Mr Lenku urged reporters to "allow the forensic experts to determine whether that is true".

He said he was unable to confirm whether any Britons or Americans were involved, but said that 10 people were being held in connection with the attack.

Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan army operations in Somalia.

The militants stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at shoppers and staff.

Twitter posts on an al-Shabab account said the group's militants had held 137 people hostage, and claimed the hostages had died after security forces fired chemical agents to end the siege.

The posts could not be verified. A government spokesman denied any chemical agents were used, and authorities called on Kenyans to ignore militant propaganda.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.

About 4,000 Kenyan troops have been serving in the south of Somalia since October 2011 as part of an African Union force supporting Somali government forces.

Scores of people have been killed in Kenya since the incursion in a string of bomb and grenade attacks blamed on - and some claimed by - al-Shabab.

The group is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Its members are fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia.


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