A former marine emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.
The ex soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.
With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.
His story emerged as sporadic gunfire continued to ring out from inside the mall early today as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day.
Despite Kenyan police assurances that they had taken control of the building, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 hostages were still being held by a band of attackers, possibly as many as 13.
The former soldier is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.
A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’
Sources said the soldier was in the Royal Marine and now lives in Kenya. He cannot be named for security reasons.
The British military regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.
Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa.
Early today, sporadic gunfire rang out from inside the mall as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day in what they said was a final push to rescue the last few hostages in a siege that has left more than 60 people dead.
‘Taken control of all the floors. We’re not here to feed the attackers with pastries but to finish and punish them,’ Kenyan police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said on Twitter.
Despite Kenyan government assurances of success, an explosion and gunfire could be heard coming from the mall at around 6.30am, followed by the sustained chatter of automatic weapons for about a minute almost three hours later, according to Associated Press reporters at the scene.
Security forces carried a body out of the mall, which remained on fire, with flames and smoke visible.
A Kenyan soldier wearing bomb disposal protective gear also exited the building.
While the government announced Sunday that ‘most’ hostages had been released, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 were still being held by a band of attackers, described as ‘a multinational collection from all over the world.’
Somalia’s rebel group Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, posted an audio message on a pro-militant website late Monday that they were still in control of the building.
‘Despite botched attempts by the Jews and Christians to recapture the mall today, the mujahideen are still in control of the Westgate,’ al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in the message.
‘The upper hand still remains theirs,’ he said.
Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed said up to three Americans and one British person were among those who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Britain’s foreign office said it was aware of the foreign minister’s remarks, but would not confirm if a British woman was involved.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said there had been six British deaths and the number could rise.
The attacker from Britain was a woman who has ‘done this many times before,’ Mohamed said which lends weight to speculation that the so-called ‘White Widow’, Samantha Lewhwaite may have taken part in the raid.
U.S. officials said they were looking into whether any Americans were involved. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the department had ‘no definitive evidence of the nationalities or the identities’ of the attackers.
The security expert, who insisted on anonymity to talk freely about the situation, said many hostages had been freed or escaped in the previous 24-36 hours, including some who were in hiding.
However, there were at least 30 hostages when the assault by al-Shabab militants began Saturday, he said, and ‘it’s clear’ that Kenyan security officials ‘haven’t cleared the building fully.’
Kenyan government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the country’s president would make an address to the nation later in the day but said he could give no immediate details on the operation.
Flames and dark plumes of smoke rose Monday above the Westgate shopping complex for more than an hour after four large explosions rocked the surrounding neighborhood.
The smoke was pouring through a large skylight inside the mall’s main department and grocery store, where mattresses and other flammable goods appeared to have been set on fire, a person with knowledge of the rescue operation told The Associated Press.
The explosions were followed by volleys of gunfire as police helicopters and a military jet circled overhead, giving the neighborhood the feel of a war zone. An armored personnel carrier sat in front of the building.
By Monday evening, Kenyan security officials said they had claimed the upper hand.
Kenya’s Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the evacuation of hostages had gone ‘very, very well’ and that Kenyan officials were ‘very certain’ that few if any hostages were left in the building.
But with the mall cordoned off and under heavy security it was not possible to independently verify the assertions.
Similar claims of a quick resolution were made by Kenyan officials on Sunday and the siege continued.
Authorities have also not provided any details on how many hostages were freed or how many still remain captive.
Three attackers were killed in the fighting Monday, Kenyan authorities said, and more than 10 suspects arrested. Eleven Kenyan soldiers were wounded in the running gun battles.
An Al Shabaab spokesman, Rage, said in the audio file that the attackers had been ordered to ‘take punitive action against the hostages’ if force was used to try to rescue them.
A Western security official in Nairobi who insisted on not being named to share information about the rescue operation said the only reason the siege hadn’t yet ended would be because hostages were still inside.
Westgate mall, a vast complex with multiple banks that have secure vaults and bulletproof glass partitions, as well as a casino, is difficult to take, the official said.
‘They are not made for storming,’ he said of the labyrinth of shops, restaurants and offices. ‘They’re made to be unstormable.’
The massacre began on Saturday shortly before midday local time.
Witnesses told how terrorists with faces hidden by Islamic scarves stormed the building, tossing grenades and spraying shoppers with AK-47s.
Yesterday pictures emerged online that appeared to show the moment gunmen entered the shopping centre, pointing their weapons at terrified civilians.
The killers, who were dressed in Western clothes, ordered all Muslims to leave, before carrying out rudimentary tests to see if hostages could recite the Koran and name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed.
One security officer said the mall had been turned into ‘an abattoir’ within half an hour, as gunmen went on the rampage.
Militants have reportedly burned their victims’ faces and removed their hands in an attempt to conceal their identities; the bodies were piled against the main door to slow the progress of rescue teams.
Yesterday reports emerged online that an injured woman trapped inside had been sexually abused at gunpoint in front of young hostages.
It is believed that she has been shot in the shoulder, while her child has been killed.
Details of the incident were posted hundreds of times on Facebook.
The woman is said to have been able to speak several times with her husband, who is outside the shopping centre – but last night he had heard nothing from her for several hours.
Another witness, Kamille Kaur, was with several dozen children for a cookery competition on the mall’s second floor when the attack began.
Her son, 12, and daughter, 8, were injured as gunmen opened fire. She said adults ‘were like animals, climbing over the children to get out’.
A Twitter account representing Al Shabaab, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, said it was carried out by terrorists from seven nations, including Britain, the US and Canada.
The group has recently split into two factions following bloody infighting.
Those not involved in the Nairobi attack are said to be spreading false information, raising questions over the veracity of initial reports that Londoners Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, and Liban Adam, 23, are among the gunmen.
Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi, said fighters from several countries had participated in the attack, but would not specify which ones.
‘We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number,’ he said, adding that the militants were ‘clearly a multinational collection from all over the world’.
‘We have also have an idea that this is not a local event,’ he said. ‘We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient [intelligence] to suggest that.’
At least three of the terrorists were killed, he added, after Kenyan forces moved into the five-storey complex, which was filled with some 1,200 people when it was stormed by three heavily armed groups on Saturday.
Kenyans were last night bracing themselves for further terror attacks after it was claimed dozens more militants from the organisation had bribed their way into the country.
A spokesman for Al Shabaab said all Britons in Kenya are ‘legitimate’ targets because the UK has supported the African country’s military intervention in neighbouring Somalia.
Yesterday David Cameron returned early from Balmoral, where he had been staying with the Queen, to chair an emergency Cobra meeting with Cabinet colleagues including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
Jewish Zionist Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron has declared that:
‘These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion – they don’t. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don’t represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world.’
So Mr Cameron is telling the British public that this is yet another “isolated incident” by Muslims but nothing to do with Muslims. Like the “isolated incident” that saw Lee Rigby, a serving British soldier beheaded in broad daylight on a bust London road by 2 savage Muslim negros (in the name of Islam).
Mr Cameron jumps to it and produces these statements every single time Muslims commit atrocities, defending Islam and claiming that these thousands of isolated incidents have nothing to do with Islam. He must think that our people are mentally defective retards. They clearly have EVERYTHING to do with Islam.