Gunmen lob grenades, fire at upscale Nairobi mall

JASON STRAZIUSO
September 21, 2013
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Two women hug outside an upscale shopping mall, seen background left , in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday Sept. 21 2013, after shooting erupted when armed men attempted to rob a store. Bursts of gunfire were heard from outside the mall Saturday, where cars were left abandoned. Witnesses say a half dozen grenades also went off along with lobbies of gunfire that started at midday. Police say they are engaging the attackers. (AP Photo/ Jason Straziuso)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire Saturday at Nairobi's most upscale mall, witnesses and police said.

Large pockets of people trapped in the mall came streaming out over the course of an hour. At least a half dozen were bloodied and were grabbed by first responders. Many clutched small children. Others were crying.

Mall guards used shopping carts to wheel out several wounded children and at least one man.

The volleys of gunfire moved outside the mall after police arrived nearly half an hour after the attacks began and engaged the gunmen.

Rob Vandijk, who works at the Dutch embassy, said he was eating at a restaurant inside the mall when attackers lobbed hand grenades inside the building. He said gunfire then burst out and people screamed as they dropped to the ground.

Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue said the gunmen had besieged the building, and officers were on the ground engaging the attackers. He said the men were trying to rob a shop within the mall.

Some of those running from the mall said the attack may have been a bank robbery gone bad.

Cars were left abandoned outside the mall after the attack started around midday.

The Westgate Mall is situated in Nairobi's affluent Westlands area and is frequented by expatriates and rich Kenyans.