NAIROBI: Kenya has vowed not to bow to al-Shabaab’s threats of more attacks if troops are not pulled out of Somalia, following a devastating mall attack in Nairobi by the Al-Qaida-linked insurgents.
“We went to Somalia because al-Shabaab was a threat to national security … We will continue to take action on that front until our security and interests in the country are protected,” interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters on Friday.
Somalia’s al-Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane said the Nairobi Westgate mall carnage in which at least 67 people were killed would be followed by “more bloodshed” unless Kenya left Somalia.
Kenya invaded southern Somalia to attack al-Shabaab bases two years ago, and later joined the 17,700-strong African Union force deployed in the country.
Funerals continued on Friday for the victims on the third and final day of official mourning, with President Uhuru Kenyatta attending the service of his slain nephew.
As well as scores of Kenyans, many of the dead were foreigners, including from Britain, Canada, China, France, the Netherlands, India, South Africa and South Korea.
Nigerian Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka and other writers paid tribute to renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor who was among the dead.
“We denounce these enemies of humanity,” Soyinka said, accompanied by several writers and authors at a press conference in Freedom Park in central Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.
Dozens more are unaccounted for, with 59 people still listed by the Red Cross as missing after the attack — one of the worst in Kenya’s history.
The extremists on Friday gloated at the massacre, which saw a group of gunmen storm the part Israeli-owned complex at midday on Saturday, firing from the hip and hurling grenades at shoppers and staff, before holding off Kenyan and foreign forces with a barrage of bullets for four days.
“The mesmeric performance by the Westgate Warriors was undoubtedly gripping, but despair not folks that was just the premiere of Act 1,” the group said in one of a string of messages posted on social media.
Since the unprecedented 80-hour siege ended late on Tuesday, al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday on a police compound on the border with Somalia, killing two officers.
Attacks are common in Kenya’s northeastern border with Somalia, with regular grenade blasts or shooting ever since Kenyan troops crossed into southern Somalia two years ago.
Close to 200 people were wounded in the four-day mall carnage in one of Nairobi’s largest shopping centres, which was popular among wealthy Kenyans, diplomats, UN workers and other expatriates.
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