Kenyan security forces were in the final stages of flushing out Islamic extremist terrorists from a besieged shopping mall, the vice president has said, two days after it was seized by members of a Somali group linked to al Qaida.
It is unlikely that any more hostages remain inside Westgate Mall, another official said. But similar claims of a quick resolution were made by Kenyan officials on Sunday and the siege has continued for another day.
Three attackers were killed in the fighting on Monday, officials said, and more than 10 suspects arrested. Eleven Kenyan soldiers were wounded in the running gun battles. By evening, Kenyan security officials claimed the upper hand.
"Taken control of all the floors. We're not here to feed the attackers with pastries but to finish and punish them," Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said on Twitter.
Kenya's interior minister said the evacuation of hostages "has gone very, very well" and that Kenyan officials are "very certain" that there are few if any hostages left in the building.
Vice president William Ruto landed in Kenya after International Criminal Court officials in The Hague gave him permission to return to the country. Mr Ruto is on trial for crimes against humanity charges over allegations he helped orchestrate Kenya's 2007-08 post-election violence.
Interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku revised the death toll to 62. Kenyan officials earlier said 59 people have died since the siege on Westgate Mall began on Saturday while the Red Cross had put the toll at 68, then in a tweet lowered it to 62, saying some bodies had been counted twice.
Earlier witness reports had indicated that a woman was among the estimated 10 to 15 attackers. Mr Lenku said that instead some male attackers had dressed up like women.
Dark plumes of smoke rose from the mall for more than an hour after four large explosions rocked the upmarket Westlands district. A person with knowledge of the rescue operation told The Associated Press that the smoke was rising up and out of a large skylight inside the mall's main department and grocery store, Nakumatt, where goods like mattresses may have been torched.
The four explosions were followed by volleys of gunfire, then a thick, dark column of smoke that burned for roughly 90 minutes. Military and police helicopters and one plane circled over the Nairobi mall, giving the area the feel of a war zone.