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Westgate Mall In Nairobi Attacked Because Of 'American And Jewish Shops', According To Al Shabaab

23/09/2013 18:26 BST | Updated 24/09/2013 10:14 BST

Nairobi’s Westgate mall was attacked because it had "American and Jewish shops", according to an al-Shabaab spokesman. At least 62 people have been killed and more than 150 injured since the Islamists began their assault on the up-market shopping centre, popular with tourists.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, the terror group’s spokesman for military operations, said of the mall: "It is a place where tourists from across the world come to shop, where diplomats gather. It is a place where Kenya's decision-makers go to relax and enjoy themselves. Westgate is a place where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them."

Muscab warned that "attacks like this will become common in Kenya" should the Kenyan government not withdraw its troops from Somalia. "It is possible if they don't withdraw attacks like this will happen in Kenyan cities and towns every day," he said.

On Sunday, President Kenyatta told the press that 10 to 15 gunmen were still barricaded in the mall, holding as many as 10 hostages. A second spokesperson for al-Shabaab, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, said "the mujahideen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force".

Reported by Reuters, a Twitter message purportedly run by the group, warned: "They've obtained large amounts of ammunition and are, by the blessings of Allah alone, still firm and still dominating the show."