Al-Shabab claims Nairobi attack, warns Kenyan troops to leave Somalia
Kenyan troops surround Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall where a militant attack left at least 39 people dead and 150 more injured on September 21, 2013.
Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters have claimed responsibility for Saturday’s deadly attack in a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, warning the Kenyan government to withdraw its troops from their country.
An al-Shabab spokesman said in a statement issued on Saturday that his group was behind the attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that left at least 39 people dead and 150 more injured.
"The Christian government of Kenya invaded our country in October 2011 killing many innocent civilians with their military jets," Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said.
"We have warned Kenya of that attack but it ignored (us), still forcefully holding our lands ... while killing our innocent civilians," Rage said.
"This led the Mujahideen to wage revenge attacks on Kenya. Today, a unit of al-Shabab al-Mujahideen attacked an important center for Kenya, taking control of it," he added.
"If you want Kenya in peace, it will not happen as long as your boys are in our lands," Rage said in the statement.
Kenya has more than 4,000 army soldiers in southern Somalia, where they have been battling the al-Shabab fighters since 2011.
The Kenyan troops are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that gets training and equipment from the United States.
Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
However, MPs meeting in Mogadishu elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president of Somalia with a big majority in September 2012.
The weak Western-backed government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for more than six years and is propped up by the 10,000-strong AMISOM force from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, and Kenya.