UK
28/09/2013 21:40 BST

Kenyan Intelligence Suspected Westgate Mall Would Be Targeted, But Did Not Act, Report Claims

Kenyan intelligence suspected the Westgate shopping mall may be targeted by terrorists, and investigated the Nairobi shopping centre just 24 hours before the Al-Shabab attack, new reports claim.

Kenyan media has published leaked intelligence briefings detailed plans for attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa, seen by cabinet ministers and army chiefs, specifically naming Westgate and the Holy Family Basilica, according to the BBC.

Kenya's Daily Nation reported that the National Intelligence Service reports were "informing them of increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa around September 13 and 20, 2013".

westgate mall

A new video made available shows members of the public as they rush from the Westgate shopping mall complex, as explosions are heard in distance

The Observer reported that intelligence agents may have been at the mall just hours before the terrorists arrived.

Ministers may have known as far back as January, but were warned again in September, the paper claimed.

Some 67 people were killed in the deadly attack on the upmarket Nairobi mall and dozens of people are still reported missing.

The reports also suggest that Israel voiced concerns that attacks on buildings owned by its citizens were imminent. The Westgate mall is Israeli-owned.

The Israelis said terrorists were planning to attack premises owned by its citizens during the Jewish holidays between September 4 and 28. “The Israeli Embassy in Nairobi has raised concern with the Foreign Affairs Ministry that Iran and Hezbollah from Lebanon have been collecting ‘operational intelligence and open interests in Israeli and Jewish targets around the world including Kenya,’” warns the report filed on September 13, 2013.

The warnings were first made in January, according to the newspaper, and again from the beginning of September.

A senior intelligence official told AFP: "There is no way one can say there was no intelligence on this attack because those reports started trickling in from late last year. And they were specific with targets including Westgate."

A sixth Briton has been confirmed dead following the Kenyan shopping centre atrocity as the Foreign Office said it could not rule out the possibility of further British casualties.

Investigators have recovered a vehicle believed to have been used by the terrorists who led the attack.

At least five of the militants died in the mall and another 11 are being held by Kenyan authorities - including at least seven who are thought to have been arrested at the airport.

International forensic experts, including teams from Scotland Yard, the United States, Israel, Germany and Canada, are helping sift through the debris for clues.

News of the sixth death was announced as a harrowing video emerged showing medics rushing to help the injured shortly after the the four-day stand-off began.

Rescuers can be seen treating the wounded as others wail or cry out for help, while bodies are visible on the pavement outside the Westgate mall.

In the footage, filmed by the Kenyan Red Cross, slabs of concrete can be seen on top of crushed cars and clips show rows of scorched vehicles.

The video was released seven days after terrorists stormed the mall but there are still no clear details relating to the individual identities of the perpetrators.

Earlier this week Kenyan authorities claimed a woman was involved.

This suggestion has led to speculation that British terrorist suspect Samantha Lewthwaite - who was married to the July 7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay - may have some connection with the attack.

Dubbed the ''White Widow'', Lewthwaite is known to be in East Africa and is wanted over alleged links to a terrorist cell that planned to bomb the country's coastal resorts. Interpol issued a notice asking for help in capturing the 29-year-old fugitive over the 2011 plot.

Tales of horror have emerged over the past few days as survivors have come forward to detail their ordeals at the Westgate mall.

Mitul Shah, 38, a London-born father of one caught up in the siege, was yesterday hailed a "hero and a star" for reportedly offering himself as a hostage to allow children to escape from militants.

The youngsters were taking part in a televised cooking competition sponsored by his company when the terrorists descended on the shopping centre.