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Kenyan troops prepare assault on Nairobi shopping mall

Security forces in Nairobi say they are preparing a "major assault" on the shopping mall where militants are holed up with hostages. The attack, which began Saturday, has left at least 68 dead.

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Kenya readies mall assault

Gunfire volleys could be heard throughout the day on Sunday at a mall in Nairobi that was stormed by al-Qaeda linked militants al-Shabab two days ago. In an effort to put an end to the hostage situation, which has already killed 68 people, Kenyan security forces announced Sunday that an assault was imminent to retake the shopping center.

"This will end tonight. Our forces will prevail. Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win," Kenya's National Disaster Operation Center said in a message on Twitter.

Kenyan security forces have been quoted as saying that Israeli agents are assisting in rescuing hostages from the Westgate building, but Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said it remained a Kenyan operation. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in the operation.

Foreign citizens killed

Military and police forces have been fighting with al-Shabab militants for over 30 hours after fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Somali group stormed the mall Saturday afternoon.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, the worst act of terrorism in Kenya since a US embassy bombing 15 years ago, saying they specifically targeted non-Muslims.

Westgate mall, which is located in a wealthy area of Nairobi where many United Nations workers and diplomats live, is frequented by many foreign nationals in the city.

Both Kenyans and foreigners were confirmed dead in the attack, with British, French, Indian, Canadian, Dutch, Ghanaian, and Chinese citizens reported among the dead. Over 175 people were injured in the siege, and the death toll is expected to rise as soon as officials can safely explore the entire building.

mz/hc (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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