(USA TODAY) - Kenya's interior minister says two Islamic extremists were killed Monday as military forces waged an operation to rescue hostages inside an upscale mall in Nairobi. A top military official said he believes the attackers are "a multinational collection from all over the world."
After four large blasts rocked the Westgate Mall on Monday, sending out large plumes of smoke, Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said Monday that the two militants died from "our morning activities,"the Associated Press reports.
Kenya Chief of Defense forces Gen. Julius Karangi said fighters from an array of nations participated in the attack claimed by al-Shabab, a Somali group allies with al-Qaida.
"We have an idea who this people are and they are clearly a multinational collection from all over the world," he said.
The minister said some hostages, who have been held for three days, have been released and those remaining are minimal.
Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Black and grey smoke rose up from the mall.
Authorities in Kenya, communicating through social media, appealed for calm and told people to stay well away from the mall complex, where the operation is continuing.
Earlier, Kenya's Red Cross said the death toll rose to 69 after more bodies were recovered Sunday. However, the Kenyan government revised that figure lower, with Kenya's interior ministry saying Monday that 62 were confirmed dead.
In its latest news briefing, the ministry said that all of the attackers are men but that some were dressed as women. Two militants were killed this morning and several others injured. The ministry said that the "operation will come to an end soon."
More than 175 people were injured in the mall attack, including many children, Kenyan officials say.
Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists after the extremists - said to be from the al-Shabab militant network - stormed the mall Saturday from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians.