NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) – Gunmen attacked an upscale shopping mall in the Kenyan capital on Saturday, leading to a fierce gunbattle with police and leaving at least 30 people dead, the Kenyan Red Cross said.
Fifty more people were wounded in the attack at the mall in Nairobi, said Abbas Gullet, head of the Kenyan Red Cross.
The gunmen burst into the mall and shot indiscriminately, taking some people hostage, according to a senior Kenyan government source.
“All of a sudden we heard some shots and people rushing,” said Zulobia Kassam, who was having coffee at the mall. “We realized we were under attack. We rushed to the back, trying to hide and we heard random shots from everywhere — upstairs, downstairs.”
She said they stayed in hiding for about 40 minutes before sneaking out through a back door.
“People were petrified, crying, praying,” she said. “We were told there were hostages being held.”
It was unclear how many hostages the attackers took, but police are trying to negotiate for their release and retake the building, according to the source.
Crowds dashed down the streets as soldiers in military fatigues crawled under cars to get closer to the mall, guns cocked.
Surveillance helicopters flew overhead.
Police took those rescued from the building to a secluded place for vetting to ensure they were not attackers. They streamed away from the mall in a straight line, arms raised up in the air.
Attackers appear to be of Somali origin, a Kenyan government source and Western diplomatic sources told CNN.