Terrorists stormed a Kenyan mall and killed at least 39 people

September 21, 2013
September 21, 2013

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.

Terrorists stormed an affluent Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing machine guns, in a brutal attack that killed at least 39 people. The gunmen weren’t immediately identified, but the Somali militant group al Shabaab had previously threatened to strike the Westgate mall in retaliation for Kenyan military strikes against al Qaeda. The group claimed responsibility for the mall attack on Twitter and vowed more violence.

The mall was hosting a children’s day event when the attack occurred. President Uhuru Kenyatta said 39 people were confirmed dead. Al Shabbab claimed to have killed more than 100 people.

With the story still unfolding, it’s worth following on Twitter the Kenyan interior ministry, Kenyan policeKenya Red CrossAP’s Jason Straziuso, and TV stations K24, KBC, and NTV. The police and interior ministry are particularly useful.

The Westgate opened in 2007 in the Westlands neighborhood of Nariobi, where rich Kenyans and expatriates tend to live. It’s a conspicuous symbol of economic development in Kenya’s fast-growing economy, which is likely why al Shabaab has singled out the mall in statements since 2011. The gunmen in today’s attack were said to have told Muslims to leave the mall while shooting people they believed to be non-Muslims.

Kenyans are predominantly Christian. The Kenyan military, with cooperation from Somalia, has waged attacks against al-Shabaab militants in the last several years, prompting vows of revenge. Al Shabaab said last year that it was officially joining al Qaeda, though some members of the group objected and split off on their own.

Officials in Kenya haven’t yet accused al Shabaab of the attack. “It is a possibility that it is an attack by terrorists,” the interior ministry told Reuters.

Warning: Some of the photos below are very graphic. They include images of seriously injured people and dead bodies.

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A mother and her children hide from the gunmen.Reuters/Siegfried Modola
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An armed police officer approaches the entrance to the mall.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A woman runs toward armed policemen with her child.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A woman’s body lies lifeless in the wake of the shooting.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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Injured people cry for help inside the mall.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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People come out from hiding in the parking lot. Dead bodies lie in front of them.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A woman is carried from her car to an ambulance.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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Soliders and police hunt for the gunmen.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A girl runs toward a police officer.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A man lies dead.Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
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A police officer tries to secure the area.Reuters/Siegfried Modola

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