On Tuesday, four days after al-Qaeda-linked militants claimed credit for attacking the Westgate Shopping Center in Nairobi, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta declared victory against the assailants. “We have ashamed and defeated our attackers,” Kenyatta said, “our task has been completed.” Kenyatta also declared three days of national mourning for Kenya, starting Wednesday.
Three floors of the mall have reportedly collapsed at the mall and five terrorists have reportedly been killed by gunfight. At this time, 11 suspects are in custody in connection with the attack. In his press conference, Kenyatta said the Kenyan government could not confirm that there were American or British citizens involved in carrying out the attack, a claim the Kenyan Foreign Minister made in an interview on Monday night.
Kenyatta said that 61 civilians were killed in the attack, along with six security officers. Some 62 others remain injured and in the hospital.
On Tuesday, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti joined NOW with Alex Wagner to discuss the attacks in Nairobi, the strength of the Somali-based group reportedly behind the attack, al-Shabaab, and U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Africa, where the U.S. has accelerated its presence over the past few years through training camps, secret CIA prisons, and targeted drone strikes.
“There have been a number of military strikes against al-Shabaab leaders and against al-Qaeda in East African operatives affiliated with al-Shabaab,” Mazzetti said, but “the overall premise for the Obama administration is: don’t get too deeply involved in the Somalia war, outsource it to other countries.”
Kenya might want the U.S. to be more engaged in the region, particularly when it comes to defeating al-Shabaab, Mazzetti pointed out, but parts of the Obama administration remain resistant. “I still think that this debate will continue about whether this means more direct U.S. involvement,” Mazzetti said, “but there is a wing of the Obama administration that is very concerned about just what exactly the U.S. interests are here and is U.S. national security at stake with this group?”