SAS hero of the mall massacre: Off duty soldier with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok
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This is a Reblogged from http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Posted by PAUL BENTLEY and DAVID WILLIAMS
Was having coffee at Westgate mall when it was attacked on Saturday
Returned to building a dozen times, despite intense gunfire
Sources said the soldier was with the Special Air Service, or SAS
Man, who can’t be named for security reasons, was pictured with victims
An off-duty member of the SAS emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday, after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.
The soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.
With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.
Our saviour: The soldier, whose gun is circled, helps two women to safety. His identity has been protected for security reasons
He is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.
A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’
Sources said the soldier was with the Special Air Service, or SAS. He cannot be named for security reasons.
The British Special Forces regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.
Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa.
Late last night it remained unclear how many gunmen and hostages remained inside, hours after a series of loud explosions and gunfire reverberated through part of the complex, and plumes of black smoke began billowing from the roof.
Explosions and then black smoke rises from besieged mall
Ominous: A picture purportedly showing gunmen entering the mall
People run for cover after hearing gunshots near the Westgate shopping mall, as the three-day siege drew to an end
One report said it had been caused by terrorists setting mattresses alight in a supermarket to create a distraction, but security officials said the explosions heard at lunchtime were Kenyan forces blasting their way in.
‘They can hide but they can’t run… all ways out are sealed,’ one official said.
The massacre began on Saturday shortly before midday local time.
Witnesses told how terrorists with faces hidden by Islamic scarves stormed the building, tossing grenades and spraying shoppers with AK-47s.
Yesterday pictures emerged online that appeared to show the moment gunmen entered the shopping centre, pointing their weapons at terrified civilians.
The killers, who were dressed in Western clothes, ordered all Muslims to leave, before carrying out rudimentary tests to see if hostages could recite the Koran and name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed.
One security officer said the mall had been turned into ‘an abattoir’ within half an hour, as gunmen went on the rampage.
Militants have reportedly burned their victims’ faces and removed their hands in an attempt to conceal their identities; the bodies were piled against the main door to slow the progress of rescue teams.
Yesterday reports emerged online that an injured woman trapped inside had been sexually abused at gunpoint in front of young hostages.
Smoke rises from the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi following a string of explosions during the third day of a stand-off between Kenyan security forces and gunmen inside the building
Volunteers run for cover after hearing a volley of gunshots at the scene of the siege
Footage shows shoppers fleeing attack inside Nairobi mall
It is believed that she has been shot in the shoulder, while her child has been killed.
Details of the incident were posted hundreds of times on Facebook.
The woman is said to have been able to speak several times with her husband, who is outside the shopping centre – but last night he had heard nothing from her for several hours.
Another witness, Kamille Kaur, was with several dozen children for a cookery competition on the mall’s second floor when the attack began.
Her son, 12, and daughter, 8, were injured as gunmen opened fire. She said adults ‘were like animals, climbing over the children to get out’.
A Twitter account representing Al Shabaab, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, said it was carried out by terrorists from seven nations, including Britain, the US and Canada.
The group has recently split into two factions following bloody infighting.
Those not involved in the Nairobi attack are said to be spreading false information, raising questions over the veracity of initial reports that Londoners Ahmed Nasir Shirdoon, 24, and Liban Adam, 23, are among the gunmen.
Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi, said fighters from several countries had participated in the attack, but would not specify which ones.
‘We have an idea who they are, their nationality and even the number,’ he said, adding that the militants were ‘clearly a multinational collection from all over the world’.
Military forces take position inside a shopping mall following the attack by masked gunmen in Nairobi
Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building
People help a wounded man outside the Westgate shopping mall, as 69 people were slaughtered by the terrorists
‘We have also have an idea that this is not a local event,’ he said. ‘We are fighting global terrorism here and we have sufficient [intelligence] to suggest that.’
At least three of the terrorists were killed, he added, after Kenyan forces moved into the five-storey complex, which was filled with some 1,200 people when it was stormed by three heavily armed groups on Saturday.
Kenyans were last night bracing themselves for further terror attacks after it was claimed dozens more militants from the organisation had bribed their way into the country.
A spokesman for Al Shabaab said all Britons in Kenya are ‘legitimate’ targets because the UK has supported the African country’s military intervention in neighbouring Somalia.
Yesterday David Cameron returned early from Balmoral, where he had been staying with the Queen, to chair an emergency Cobra meeting with Cabinet colleagues including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
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