Kenya’s tourism secretary issued a statement assuring travelers the country is safe following the deadly siege of the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi over the weekend.
Islamist militants have been holding hostages at the shopping mall, where at least 68 people have been killed, Reuters reported. On Sunday, Politico reported that an additional 175 people have been injured, including five Americans.
Al Shabab, a Somali militant group affiliated with al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack, news media reported.
Phyllis Kandie, Kenya’s secretary of commerce and tourism, issued a statement saying that Kenya is peaceful and that Kenyan officials are doing everything in their power to ensure everyone’s safety.
Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five Tours & Expeditions, said the tour operator had accounted for all its travelers and that all are safe.
“Visits to malls are not part of our activities,” Sanghrajka wrote in an email. He added, “The sights around Nairobi and hotels are unaffected, however we are still ensuring one of our operations officers are with all guests while out.”
The State Department issued a statement on Saturday condemning the attacks, and noted that local media reported that “around 10 gunmen attacked the mall, which is frequented by expatriates in an upscale neighborhood of Nairobi.” The attack occurred around noon on Saturday, Sept. 21.
On Monday, reports were emerging of several explosions being heard at the mall, in addition to exchanges of gunfire as the standoff continued into its third day.