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TERRORISM

Spanish woman trapped in Kenya mall horror

A Spanish woman has described the horror of being caught up in the mall attack in the Kenyan city of Nairobi which has claimed the lives of at least 62 people.

Spanish woman trapped in Kenya mall horror
A Kenyan woman is helped to safety after masked gunmen stormed an upmarket mall and sprayed gunfire on shoppers and staff. Photo: Simon Maina/AFP

"I've never seen anything like it in the 22 years I've been living in Nairobi,"  Silvia Ojeda told Canary Islands newspaper La Opinión de Tenerife.

Ojeda and her daughter where shopping for clothes on Saturday when they heard  the first shots by the attackers belonging to the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab terror group.

They were trapped in the mall's Woolworths store for four hours while as many as 15 gunmen went on a deadly rampage killing customers at  Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre, a location popular with the city's expats.

At first "the people were a little frightened and they start coming into shop. And we realized what we were hearing was shots," said Ojeda on Sunday from the safety of her home.

She and her daughter waited out the attack with other clients of the shopping centre, sharing information with other customers.

"We were sitting silently and every time someone received a call, we got a fright," said the woman, originally from Spain's Canary Islands. 

They learnt what was going on in the mall via text messages, call and details provided by an Italian journalist. 

"My daughter couldn't stop crying. There was a lot of noise and shooting," Ojeda said.

Two other young children who had lost their parents waited out the attack with Ojeda and her daughter. All were eventually freed by Kenyan security agents.

"They took us out in single file," said the Spanish expatriate.

Many of the people had remained calm in the store but broke down when they made it safely outside," she explained. 

The attack on the Westgate mall began on Saturday. By Sunday, Kenyan security forces had secured much of the complex but the Al-Shabaab terrorists are believed to be still holding a number of hostages.

Al-Shabaab is a Somali terror group. 

In 2010, the group attacked people watching the World Cup football final on television in Kampala, Uganda, killing 77 people.

On Sunday, CNN reported that three of the gunmen in the Westgate mall attack were US citizens. 

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TERRORISM

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.

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