AT LEAST 4 people have died following a shootout at the Westgate Mall in the Westlands area of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
According to reports an unspecified number of people have been injured in the shootout between police and the armed men.
Kenya’s Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo has urged members of the public to avoid the Westgate area and its environs.
“We have managed to evacuate some people to safety. We urge Kenyans to avoid the area as we pursue the thugs,” Kenya’s Interior Ministry said on its twitter handle.
Kimaiyo said police have surrounded Mall area and is asking Kenyans on the social media to avoid speculations and await proper briefing.
Dutch embassy employee Rob Vandijk told AP that he had been eating at a restaurant in the centre when gunmen threw hand grenades inside the building.
He said machine-gun fire then rang out, and people dropped to the ground.
Cars were left abandoned outside the building after the attack began.
Armed police took cover behind vehicles outside. “We have officers at the scene trying to get out the group shooting inside,” a police official told AFP news agency.
“Officers are approaching the situation with caution because there are innocent civilians inside,” he said.
There are fears that there may be some hostages, the NTV channel reports.
The Westgate centre is often frequented by wealthy Kenyans and expatriates. Police have urged residents to stay away from the area.
Additional Reporting By Agencies