NAIROBI - All hostages are believed to have been evacuated from a Nairobi shopping mall and Kenyan special forces are not encountering any resistance, a government spokesman told AFP late Monday.
Kenyan troops are "in control" of Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, the Kenyan interior ministry announced overnight .
"We're in control of Westgate," the ministry said in a post on Twitter, some 60 hours after Islamist gunmen stormed the complex and massacred at least 62 people.
The government spokesman earlier said the three-day-long siege by Islamist gunmen, which has left at least 62 dead and up to 200 wounded, was nearing the end.
"Our special forces are inside the building checking the rooms. Obviously it's a very, very big building," said government spokesman Manoah Esipisu.
"We think that everyone, the hostages, have been evacuated, but we don't want to take any chances," he said. "The special forces are doing their job and yes, I think we are near the end."
"The special forces call this sanitising. It's a very complex and very delicate operation," he said, but said no resistance was being encountered.
"At the moment they have not met any resistance, but of course we are not ruling out the possibility that there are a couple of them hiding in a remote room or corner," he told AFP.
The action early on Saturday, DAY ONE, with a security man carrying a baby to safety as gunmen fire at them. PHOTO BY AFP
No details on the numbers of hostages released have been given, but 63 people were earlier recorded missing by the Red Cross, a figure thought to include hostages as well as those possibly killed.
Almost 200 were wounded in the attack, and at least 11 Kenyan troops were wounded in intense gun battles on Monday, the army said.
Special forces on Monday also killed at least three gunmen and wounded several in bitter fighting in the part Israeli-owned complex, which was popular with wealthy Kenyans and expatriates. A Kenyan security source and a Western intelligence official said Israeli forces were also involved in operations, along with British and US agents.
Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have claimed the attack, which began midday on Saturday, when the gunmen marched into the complex, firing grenades and automatic weapons and sending panicked shoppers fleeing.
Kenyan army chief Julius Karangi said the gunmen were of different nationalities. Many foreign fighters, including Somalis with dual nationalities, are members of the Shebab force.
"They are from different countries. We have sufficient intelligence this is global terrorism," Karangi said.
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku denied that any of the insurgents were women: "All the terrorists are men," he said, noting: "Some of them had dressed like women."
Police said they had also arrested more than 10 people for questioning.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose nephew was killed along with his fiancee, called the attack "despicable and beastly."