Kenyan mall crisis over but was a British woman amongst the attackers?

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Twitter has announced the end of the Westgate mall hostage situation. Kenyan officials have declared on the Twitter account of the government's disaster operations centre that all hostages being held at the Westgate shopping mall are now free. They went on to state that the Kenyan military had taken back control of the building from al-Shabaab militants.

"We believe all hostages have been released… situation of hostiles to be confirmed," read the tweet, even as more explosions continued to ring out through the night, though one source described them as ‘controlled explosions’ carried out by the Kenyan military.

Rumours are rife about the identity of the attackers, six of whom are reported to have been killed during the siege, and a number of whom are now being held in custody.

"We have an idea who these people are, and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world," said Major General Julius Karanja, the chief of general staff for the Kenyan military. "We also have an idea that this is clearly not a local event."

The Somali al-Shabaab Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Kenya's foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said yesterday that two or three Americans and one female British national were among the attackers.

Suspicion and speculation instantly turned to Samantha Lewthwaite, the British woman suspected of masterminding a terrorist cell in Kenya's second largest city Mombasa, as the identity of the female British national. Lewthwaite, 29, is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay, who bombed an tube train at King's Cross in July 2005, killing 26 people. She is believed to be at large in East Africa after escaping a police raid in Mombassa. Bizzarely enough, Lewthwaite is also believed to have been involved with Michael Adebolajo, one of the two men who murdered Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

The death toll of 69, including Ghanaian, Indian, Dutch, Peruvian, South African and South Korean nationals is expected to rise further as the investigations begin.

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