The majority of the people taken hostage over the weekend by Islamists at a Nairobi mall have been rescued and the security forces continue clearing the building, Kenyan Interior Minister Ole Lenku said Monday.
"We are sure that more hostages will be rescued. Our officers are taking control of the building. The majority of the hostages have been rescued ... We cannot confirm the number," Lenku said in a press conference.
The terrorists, who belonged to the Somali-based Islamic militant group Al Shabab, died in shootouts with Kenyan security forces members, who surrounded the Westgate shopping mall, Lenku said.
"We have identified and killed two terrorists. And several were wounded in our operations," the interior minister said, adding that the attackers were all males.
Ten security forces members were wounded in the operation to retake the mall, Lenku said.
"All the floors (of the mall) are under our control, but the terrorists are hiding in different areas of the building," the interior minister said.
The death toll from the terrorist attack stands at 62 Lenku said.
The Red Cross, meanwhile, pegged the death toll at 69, with 63 other people listed as missing.
A huge plume of black smoke was visible over the shopping mall on Monday, while gunshots could be heard coming from inside the building.
Heavily armed soldiers have taken up positions around the mall and armored vehicles are patrolling the perimeter.
Lenku said before his press conference that 10 to 12 members of Al Shabab, which announced its formal union with al-Qaeda in February, were still inside the mall.
The radical Islamic group claimed in a Twitter post that it attacked the Westgate mall in retaliation for the Kenyan military's participation in the U.N. mission in Somalia.
Kenya's armed forces are backing the Somali government against Islamist militias such as Al Shabab.
The attack began Saturday morning when several armed men speaking in Arabic entered the packed mall and began firing at anyone unable to respond in their language.
Westgate mall is located in one of the most upscale areas of Nairobi and is frequented by the capital's Western expatriate community. EFE