AFP reports from a security source in Nairobi that Israeli special forces joined the Kenyan military in storming the Westgate shopping mall, Sunday, Sept. 22, to break the standoff with some dozen Al Qaeda-linked Somali Al Shabaab gunmen barricaded there with hostages for the second day. The death toll from the Saturday shooting-grenade attack has risen to 59 with 205 people injured.
DEBKAfile, the only world publication to reveal the Israeli involvement from the start of the Nairobi mall attack Saturday, now discloses that the Israeli commandos were airlifted to Kenya when the Westgate mall was first attacked. Nairobi invoked a secret security pact between the two governments under which Jerusalem guarantees military assistance should the Kenyan government be threatened by a foreign force.
This was the first time Israeli special counter-terror forces have fought Al Qaeda terrorists face to face on foreign soil. The Israeli foreign ministery refused to confirm or deny any inovlvement in Kenya.
DEBKAfile reported exclusively Saturday that the AQAP-backed Somali terrorists singled the target out to hit two targets – Kenya and Israel
After releasing Muslims, the raiders held onto an unknown number of hostages, some on the ground floor where Israeli shops are located; more in other parts of the seven-floor building. Unknown too is the number of injured and possibly dead victims, including foreigners, who are still trapped in the building. American, British, Canadian and French citizens were reported killed or injured in the initial attack Saturday.
The Kenyan and Israeli authorities have blanketed with secrecy the scene inside the mall, from which a barrage of gunfire and explosions were heard during the morning. Local police and special forces are trying to force the Islamist gunmen to surrender and give up the hostages.