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PM: Kenya terror attack sickening
Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
David Cameron has warned the country to brace itself for "more bad news" after the deaths of three British nationals in the Nairobi terror attack were confirmed.
The Prime Minister said the UK had offered Kenya assistance, including intelligence co-operation, in response to the rampage by Islamic extremists in an upmarket shopping centre which has left dozens dead and many more injured.
Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, with about 10 to 15 gunmen believed to remain holed up in the Westgate mall holding a number of captives more than 24 hours after the violence began.
A sombre Mr Cameron said: "It is an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality. What we know is that three British nationals have been killed." He added: "Because the situation is ongoing we should prepare ourselves for further bad news. Our thoughts also should be with the Kenyan government and the Kenyan people at this time."
Mr Cameron said he had offered the Kenyan authorities "every assistance" in a call to president Uhuru Kenyatta, who lost members of his own family in the attack. The Prime Minister was at pains to stress that the perpetrators did not represent the majority of Muslims but had carried out the atrocity "in the name of terror, violence and extremism".
Setting out the UK's response, he added: "Obviously the first priority is to make sure we do everything for the British nationals caught up in this, so we're strengthening the consular services that we have and the people that we have to look after our people. We've also offered the Kenyans help in terms of policing and advice and intelligence collaboration and other areas which we will be able to help with."
UK staff from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia travelled to assist locally-based officials with the efforts in Nairobi and a rapid deployment team was sent from London, the Foreign Office said. Foreign Secretary William Hague chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra to co-ordinate the response to the situation.
Labour leader Ed Miliband offered his support to the Government and said: "Those who carried out this attack will be condemned across the globe. The cold-blooded killing of innocent women, children and men is as despicable as it is shocking."
Government officials in Kenya said at least 59 people were confirmed dead and 175 others were wounded while about 1,000 were rescued from the mall. Mr Kenyatta said his nephew and his fiancee were killed in the attack.
"These are young lovely people I personally knew and loved," he said, promising retribution against the terrorists, whose number reportedly include armed women. "They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts. Like the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly and indeed very painfully."