.- A deadly terrorist attack at a shopping mall in the capital of Kenya has drawn prayers and condolences from across the country and around the world.
Auxiliary Bishop David Kamau of Nairobi, speaking for the Kenyan bishops’ conference, condemned “the unwarranted attacks on the helpless people and residents of Kenya.”
“As a nation we share in the trauma of our brothers and sisters who have lost their close relatives and their loved ones during the Westgate attack,” he said in a statement, according to the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, a member of the Caritas International.
“We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have been injured in this terrible tragedy and pray that the Almighty God grants them a quick recovery,” the bishop said.
On Sept. 21, more than a dozen gunmen entered Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The militants reportedly allowed some Muslim shoppers to leave the mall before opening fire on remaining people in the shopping center and then taking hostages.
The next four days were marked by explosions and gunfire as government forces struggled to gain control.
Current reports indicate that more than 60 people have died at least 175 are injured, with hundreds more being evacuated unharmed from the shopping center. Part of the building has reportedly collapsed and more than 50 are still missing, according to the Kenya Red Cross.
The militant Islamist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Twitter account. The terrorist group, which has links to al-Qaeda, is based on Somalia, where it is seeking to create an Islamic state.
Al-Shabaab said the attack was an act of retribution for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia, where it has been working with other countries – including the U.S. – in fighting Islamist terrorist groups.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday morning that security forces had “defeated our attackers,” ending the multiple-day siege.
Noting that the nation’s “losses are immense,” he declared three days of national mourning.
“Our attackers wished to destroy the essential character of our society,” he said, according to CNN. “They failed. Kenya endured. Kenya endures.”
Five terrorists were killed in the fighting and 11 other suspects are in custody, Kenyatta said, promising that authorities will work to investigate the attack and ensure “full accountability” for the perpetrators.
Neither Kenyatta nor U.S. officials could confirm early reports that a British woman and two or three Americans were among the attackers, although investigations into the nationalities of the culprits will continue. Al-Shabaab is known to have recruited in Western countries.
Countries throughout Africa and around the world, including the United States, have pledged support for the Kenyan people and government.
“We are providing all the cooperation that we can,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in a Sept. 23 press conference, vowing that his government would “stand against” such “senseless violence” and continue to work on “dismantling” terrorist organizations.
U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry echoed the president’s statements, stressing that the United States will “stand ready to help in any way we can.”
The Kenyan bishops thanked the people for their ongoing support of the victims.
“The donation of blood and other charitable acts; the sacrifices of those working in health services; all who have volunteered in any way to save the lives of our brothers and sisters in danger; let us keep the spirit as we continue to pray for each other,” they said.