The Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab is claiming responsibility for a deadly attack targeting non-Muslims at an upscale mall in Kenya's capital.
A statement from al-Shabab on its official Twitter feed Saturday says the attacks, which killed at least 39 and wounded 150, including American citizens, are retribution for military action by Kenya inside Somalia. The group said it was now shifting the battlefield to Kenya. Police say they are treating the assault as a "terrorist attack."
Witnesses say the gunmen asked victims they had cornered if they were Muslim: If the answer was yes, several witnesses said, those people were free to go. The non-Muslims were not.
The group said its fighters entered Nairobi's upscale Westgate Mall at around noon and were still inside more than nine hours later. Kenyan military special forces had entered the mall in an effort to end the standoff.
Officials fear the death toll could rise further. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office issued a statement confirming diplomat Annemarie Desloges died along with one other unidentified Canadian.
The statement called Desloges a distinguished public servant of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration who served in Canada's High Commission to Kenya.
France's president confirmed two French women were among the casualties.
A statement by Secretary of State John Kerry also noted a victim killed in the assault. "Although we have no reports of any Americans killed today, we have lost a member of our own State Department family: the wife of a foreign service national working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The men and women of USAID work courageously around the world to help people striving for a better life. While we mourn with her family today, we also pledge our commitment to do whatever we can to assist in bringing the perpetrators of this abhorrent violence to justice, and to continue our efforts to improve the lives of people across the globe,"