UPDATE 1-Somali Islamist attack on Kenyan mall kills 59 -minister

Sun Sep 22, 2013 5:38am EDT
 
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NAIROBI, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The death toll in an attack on a upmarket mall in Kenya has risen to 59 people and security forces are trying to ensure hostages come out safely, the interior minister said on Sunday, a day after the assault by Somali Islamist gunmen.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters that the government believed there were 10 to 15 attackers, saying they were investigating their identity but would not give details.

Al Shabaab, a militant Somali group that has declared allegiance to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack on Westgate mall.

"We are doing everything reasonably possible to make sure that the hostages who are still in the building come out safely," he said. He had said earlier that he had no "precise details" on whether there were hostages.

"We have indicated that we have information that a good number of attackers are still in the building," he said, saying the government believed there were 10 to 15 gunmen in the mall.

The security forces had been able to "isolate" the attackers, but, the minister said, no communication had yet been established with them.

He said 175 people had been taken to hospital and that more than 1,000 people had been evacuated from the shopping mall.