The United States condemns in the strongest terms the despicable attack on innocent civilians at the Westgate Shopping Mall.
A terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya has killed at least 69 people and injured some 175 - making it Kenya's deadliest terrorist attack in 15 years. The United States, said National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, "condemns in the strongest terms the despicable attack on innocent civilians. . .at the Westgate Shopping Mall."
The deceased include numerous persons from Britain, France, Canada, Australia and other countries. While no Americans were reported killed, the wife of a locally employed staff member of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi, was among the dead, USAID said in a statement. Five American citizens were wounded.
It appears the terrorist attack was carried out by heavily armed militants from Somalia’s al-Shabaab militia, an Islamic extremist group affiliated with al-Qaida. The assault was the deadliest in Kenya since al-Qaida operatives masterminded the twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998.
Al-Shabaab also staged twin bombings in Kampala, Uganda, during the July 2010 World Cup, killing more than 70 people. That attack, according to al-Shabaab, was in retaliation for Uganda sending its troops to Somalia in support of Somalia’s Western-backed Transitional Federal Government.
But since mid-2011, al-Shabaab appeared to have been weakened, after an offensive by African Union forces backed by the United States and other Western governments forced the group from major urban areas. While it remains in control of large swaths of southern Somalia’s countryside, the terrorist organization has been split by power struggles within its core leadership.
"The perpetrators of this heinous act [in Kenya]," said NSC spokesperson Hayden, "must be brought to justice, and we have offered our full support to the Kenyan government to do so. We will continue to stand with the Kenyan people in their efforts to confront terrorism in all its forms, including the threat posed by al-Shabaab. This cowardly act against innocent civilians will not shake our resolve."