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Kenya Mall Attack Continues; Bo Xilai is Convicted; Typhoon Usagi Heading Toward Hong Kong; Election Day in Germany

Aired September 22, 2013 - 05:00   ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A hostage standoff inside a Nairobi mall -- soldiers slowly make their way through the five-story building, looking for both victims and assailants. We'll go live to Kenya for the very latest in this continuing story.

Plus, he was once a rising star in China's communist party, now Bo Xilai faces life in prison. We'll have the story behind the verdict and the tough sentence.

Also, it is election day in Germany. Voters head to the polls for the first time since the Eurozone crisis. Will they vote for change?

Hello. I'm Natalie Allen. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We want to go straight to our top story. It has now been 24 hours since gunmen shot their way into Nairobi's Westgate mall killing at least 59 people. That number has just increase in the past few moments and 200 injured, I'm told. This was the chaotic scene Saturday as automatic gunfire echoes through the shopping complex. Kenyan officials say the attackers are still hold up inside the mall holding about 30 hostages at various locations. injured.

Let's take you to Nairobi now. We are joined by CNN's Zain Verjee. She is a native of Kenya.

And Zain, this is being one of the worst act of terrorism in eastern Africa in sometime and still ongoing. Just horror for the people there around that area and of course, for these poor hostages still inside.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A total sense of shock and horror from Kenyans here, really. We haven't seen anything like this since terrorists attack back 1998 and the hostage operations is still ongoing. So many things are not clear right now. But what we can tell you, just a short while ago, there was a press conference of the minister of the interior saying that 59 people have been killed, 175 injured. They have been taken to hospitals in and around Nairobi. There is a big blood drive. So many Kenyans are pulling together in going to donate blood.

The minister also said the operation is ongoing. This is a national security issue. He said the Kenyan national security council met this morning, brief the president and decided on a way forward. We do not have those details. He added, too, that overnight more people were evacuated, but this is a delicate operations. So that is why we are not going a lot of details and information about exactly what is going inside and how they plan to approach this.

What we can tell you from the reporting that we have done today, is that Kenyan government and western diplomatic sources have said that there are about 30 hostages inside the Westgate mall.

Now. this came around similar time where al-Shabaab set up a whole new twitter account said that they have 36 hostages inside Westgate mall. They also put out a tweet saying it is slowly approaching the 24-hour mark, the darkest 24 hours in Nairobi highlighting the fragility of the Kenyan nation. Those words from al-Shabaab.

But I will tell you Natalie, Kenyans are not fragile. Kenyans are pulling together. There is so many people that are helping with food, with water, the blood drive. Kenyans are resilient people. They have been through this before. But this is a situation that a lot of people are so traumatized because it happens just a short distance away from me and a place that everybody around this area know and knows really wild -- Natalie.


And Zain, you have relatives in the mall when it happened. What talk of stories are you hearing from the people? I was reading that they just didn't -- they couldn't tell the bad guy from the good people and the chaos is just impossible to figure out to get to (INAUDIBLE).

VERJEE: It was a Saturday morning. Like any other Saturday morning, kids were coming to the mall. People who are at (INAUDIBLE), the main grocery shop there, just running the errands and picking up all the (INAUDIBLE). I don't know if too far from around here actually, just up the road, and my father was on his way. My aunt was there having coffee meeting friends with my uncle as well. and I'm just one person, you know. The mall has a maximum capacity of about 3,000 people and there were hundreds of people there that morning, just meeting each other and doing what they normally do. But when the shot came and there was this total chaos an pandemonium, people were just really terrified. And some of the stories that we have hear about how they survive and what they did have been truly amazing and shocking.

Let's listen to one survivor.


Bullets were running above my head, but caught protected until around 11:00. That is where I crawl until I end up to my office and I look for (INAUDIBLE).


VERJEE: We also have the minister of interior a short while ago about the 59 killed and whether how many of those were foreign nationals. He said the majority were Kenyans. And what we are hearing from our reporting is that two of them were Canadians, two were French. We are hearing that several Americans have been wounded and there are Americans that have been killed, but the majority are in fact Kenyans. It went to the top of safe house being personally touched by the situation in Westgate.