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4 blasts at Kenya mall as 2 terrorists killed

  • Kenyan security forces walk back from the Westgate Mall as black smoke billows above, following large explosions and heavy gunfire, in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jonathan Kalan)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Four thunderous explosions rattled Nairobi's upscale mall Monday, part of a battle between Kenyan troops and al-Qaida-linked terrorists. Top Kenyan officials said two hostage takers, part of "a multinational collection from all over the world," had been killed.

Kenya's interior minister said the evacuation of hostages "has gone very, very well" and that Kenyan officials are "very certain" that there are few if any hostages left in the building.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku also revised the death toll to 62. Kenyan officials earlier said 59 people have died since the siege on Westgate Mall began on Saturday, while the Red Cross had put the toll at 68, then in a tweet lowered it to 62, saying some bodies had been counted twice.

Dark plumes of smoke rose from the mall for more than an hour after four large explosions rocked the upscale Westlands neighborhood. A person with knowledge of the rescue operation told The Associated Press that the smoke was rising up and out of a large skylight inside the mall's main department and grocery store, Nakumatt, where goods like mattresses may have been lit on fire.

Kenya Chief of Defense forces Gen. Julius Karangi said fighters from an array of nations participated in the attack claimed by al-Shabab, a Somali group allied with al-Qaida.

"We have an idea who these people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world," he said.

Karangi said Kenyan forces were in charge of all floors inside the mall, though terrorists could still be hiding inside. Earlier witness reports had indicated that a woman was among the estimated 10 to 15 attackers. Lenku said that instead some male attackers had dressed up like women.

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