Kenyan special forces were today locked in a fight to the death with Islamic terrorists who have been barricaded inside a Nairobi mall with up to 40 hostages since Saturday.
Witnesses described hearing four large explosions at the Westgate Shopping Centre followed by the sight of thick plumes of smoke and the sounds of fierce gunfire after the military tried to break the three day siege by gaining access from the roof.
It is feared that some of the gunmen, who are from Al Qaeda affiliated group Al Shabaab, may have blown themselves up, though a Kenyan government minister said that militants had set fire to some mattresses in a supermarket as a decoy.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that two of the terrorists had been killed and that most hostages were now free. All of the militants were men, he added, although some were dressed as women. 'We think the operation will come to an end soon', he said. 'We are in control of all the floors, the terrorists are running and hiding in some stores... there is no room for escape'.
The Red Cross has put the death toll at 62 - including four Britons - and say 63 are still missing. At least 175 were injured, including children.