A siege mounted by Somali-affiliated terrorists in Kenya's largest mall in Nairobi, in which dozens of shoppers have been killed and more than 170 injured, is continuing despite earlier government claims that the crisis had been resolved.
Kenyan officials had declared on Twitter early on Tuesday that all the hostages being held at the Westgate shopping mall were free and that the military had wrestd control of the building from al-Shabaab militants, who had been killed.
However, shots and explosions coming from the five-storey complex were still being reported well into the afternoon (video), sending crowds ducking for cover.
Amid mounting confusion, spokespeople for al-Shabaab said they retained control of the complex. It was also reported that they were still holding hostages.
Parts of the roof of the Westfield complex have collapsed, apparently as a result of a fire started on Monday which sent palls of thick black smoke over the sky in one of east Africa's largest and most cosmopolitan cities.
Officials warned that more bodies could be discovered inside the centre, raising the toll of victims from the current tally of 62 dead.
London School of Economics alumnus Ravindra Ramrattan, who had travelled to Kenya to "help alleviate poverty" was those named among the dead.
A native of Trinidad and Tobago, his mother told local reporters: "Ravi left me too early. He should not have died now because he had so much to live for."
Former US president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Elif Yavuz who was killed along with her husband, Australian architect Ross Langdon
Yavuz worked with the Clinton Foundation during her doctoral studies and recently rejoined the institution as a senior vaccines researcher based in Tanzania.
In a statement both Clintons along with their daughter Chelsea said they were hocked and terribly saddened to learn of Yavuz's death.
"Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly," they said in a statement. Popular radio and TV personality, Kenyan, Ruhila Adatia-Sood was also named among the deceased.
Reports from ABC news said that US investigators from the FBI were preparing to fly to the country. Meanwhile speculation mounted as to the possible identity of an attacker identified as a foreign female.
Kenya's Star newspaper reported that multiple survivors of the attack have described how a woman appeared to be giving orders to the attackers on Saturday afternoon.
The paper reported witnesses saying she would speak English in a foreign accent and then her orders would be translated into Swahili.
"The woman was not armed but as soon as she issued orders, the men would go on a killing rampage," one employee told the paper. "It was definitely a woman because we could tell it from the voice," another employee said.
The UK home secretary, Theresa May, has refused to comment whether the attacker is Samantha Lewthwaite, 29, the wife of July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay. Lewthwaite is already wanted by Kenyan authorities in connection with another terror plot. She is believed to be in east Africa after having escaped a police raid on a property in Mombasa.
Kenya's foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said on Monday that two or three Americans and one female British national were among the attackers. But while witness and intelligence reports have claimed that one of the terrorists was an armed white female, official sources have maintained that all the attackers were men.
As international interest in the Westgate attack mounts, with the death toll of 62 – including British, Canadian, American, Chinese, French, Ghanaian, Indian, Dutch, Peruvian, South African and South Korean victims – expected to rise, Kenyan authorities are under intense pressure over their handling of the investigation.
"We really need proper investigations. Kenya has been bungling all investigations it has handled in the past," said David Ohito, vice-chair of the Kenya Editors Guild. "We need to expose the gaps that allowed these attackers to run into the mall, stay there for days, making it very difficult for our security forces to overcome.
"There will be begging questions and we will be waiting for answers from the authorities."
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
Original headline: Nairobi mall siege continues as tributes pour in for victims
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