39 still missing after mall attack in Kenya

More than three dozen people remain unaccounted for almost a week after the end of the four-day terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall that killed at least 67, the head of the Kenyan Red Cross said yesterday.

The Red Cross’ report of 39 missing people conflicts with the government’s contention there are no remaining missing people from the attack that began on September 21, and suggests the death toll could still rise as investigators dig through the rubble of the partially collapsed mall.

“The numbers with us are what we are still showing as open cases that are reported to us,” Red Cross head Abbas Gullet said. “The only way to verify this is when the government declares the Westgate Mall 100 percent cleared — then we can resolve it,” he said.

At least 61 civilians and six security troops were killed in the attack.

Government reports on the number of terrorists killed, however, have been confusing and at times contradictory.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said last week that five attackers had been killed by security forces’ gunfire and his office said one or more might be trapped under the building’s rubble.

However, Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said on Sunday that two attackers had been hit by gunfire and that the building was thought to have collapsed on three others.

Later he said all five Islamic extremist members were thought to be under the rubble, and that no bodies of any terrorist suspects had been recovered.

“We are sure they never got out of the building, so let the forensic examination establish the exact truth,” he said.

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