Kenya Red Cross Society secretary general Ababs Gullet told Xinhua that its officials have confirmed 20 deaths and more than 50 injured in the Westgate shopping mall attack.
"We can confirm about 20 deaths and over 50 injured. The death toll could go higher since rescue operations are still underway," a KRCS official, who did not want to be named, told Xinhua.
Authorities have moved in elite troops with armoured vehicles to reinforce the police force surrounding the shopping mall.
Presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu said State House was not taking the incident as a terrorist attack, while acknowledging an operation led by the head of the police service to establish the cause.
"It's too early to tell if it's a terrorist attack. It's also too early to know motive but a forensic probe is underway," Esipisu said.
However, some police officers told Xinhua that they were treating the mall shooting as a terror attack amid reports that the assailants inside the mall were targeting non-Muslims.
Workers at the Westgate shopping mall said they heard gunshots and explosions and heavily armed masked men commanded them to lie down.
"I heard an explosion followed by heavy shootout. I and my colleague tried to hide and then after some time, she escaped through the fire exit," Vivian Atieno, who works as a sales woman at the mall, told Xinhua.
Kenya police said they had surrounded the mall which is popular with influential Kenyans and foreigners.
The workers said the hooded gunmen numbering around 10 attacked the building from the second floor of the shopping mall where there was a media event.
Some gunmen were seen armed with sophisticated weapons and shooting indiscriminately while ordering people to lie on the ground.
"Some of the workers and shoppers who attempted to escape were shot at and died instantly. Those injured were attempting to jump from the second to the first floor and then exit area but they could not manage," said David Muthee, who managed to escape from the mall.
Those being rescued were thoroughly screened by the police, according to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.
The gunmen who entered the mall at around 10.30 a. m. have not said anything conclusive about their demands, according to a spokesman of Nakumatt Supermarket, which owns the mall.
--IANS (Posted on 21-09-2013)