CRIME

Nairobi attack: Americans among gunmen, says Kenyan foreign minister

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Witnesses say many of the terrorists who stormed the Kenyan mall this past weekend spoke English. And now, The Washington Post is reporting that Kenyan foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said there were "two or three" Americans among the gunmen, and described them as “young men, about between maybe 18 and 19."

Overall, up to 15 gunmen are believed to have murdered at least 62 innocent people and injured 175.

"There was blood on the floor," describes D.C. resident Sara Head to CNN. She is a public health worker for ICF International in Fairfax, and managed to escape through a supermarket after hiding in a stairwell.

"People were telling us to be quiet," she says. "I was pretty afraid that it was unsafe to exit, but I did anyway."

But many weren't as fortunate as Sara. One woman watched as a boy standing next to her young son was shot:

"I tried to put my hand there to stop the bleeding. I don't know what I was doing, I don't know what I was doing, but I couldn't save him."

And with sobs so heavy she could hardly speak, Bendita Malakia arrives at a D.C. airport in the aftermath of the terror, and collapses into the arms of loved ones she wasn’t sure she might ever see again.

Even knowing she is now safe on American soil, the 30-year-old Malakia of North Carolina is still struggling to describe the horror she endured – hiding out for more than four hours as terrorists stormed the Westgate Mall in Nairobi this past weekend.

Malakia was having lunch in the mall when the gunmen began their four-day siege. From her room in Nairobi just one day after being rescued from the deadly massacre, she described the killers’ method of executing their victims:

"You could hear while we were back there, them methodically going from store to store talking to people, asking questions, shooting, screams -- then it would stop for a while, then they would go to another store," she says in a Skype interview with CNN.

Kenyan officials say they are certain the death toll will rise, and knowing this, Malakia says she doesn’t know if it was luck or prayer that made her tears of joy possible.

ABC7 is now learning more about who the victims were -- there was an award-winning poet from Ghana; a host for Radio Africa; an Australian malaria specialist and Harvard graduate who had worked with the Clinton health initiative. She and her husband, who was also killed, were expecting their first baby next month.

At the United Nations in New York, President Obama pledged to work with Kenya for justice, and asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence.

The Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, which is linked to al Qaeda, is claiming it carried out the attack.

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