Nightly News   |  September 23, 2013

Kenyan hostages released, three gunmen killed

A Somalia-based militant group, al Shabaab, claims to be behind the attack that shot and killed dozens of men, women and children at a shopping mall in Kenya.  NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. it's been hard to know what exactly has been happening inside an upscale shopping mall in nairobi , kenya . we know a terrorist attack has been unfolding for three days now, unspeakable systematic killing. and while forces say they are in control of the mall and combing it floor by floor for remaining gunminnesot d gunmen, the death toll is 62 with more than 175 injured with all the hostages believed to now be re-elireleased. it raises questions about a terrorist group that's new to most people and questions about public safety . we begin our coverage with ron allen in nairobi . good evening.

>> reporter: they believe all the hostages have been releasedreleased. for the past couple of days we have been told there are ten hos tanl -- hostages remaining and ten gunmen holding them. it's been a day of violence here. a day of loud, powerful explosions and sustained military attack. early this morning black smoke pours from the shopping mall , the start of another day of violence. soldiers surrounding the mall opened fire from multiple positions. firefights so intense journalists and on-lookers hundreds of yards away ducked for cover. today, kenya 's leaders claim the situation is under control. but an audio message from the militants threatened more bloodshed saying we have given orders to our fighters that they are free to kill the hostages. claiming to be behind the attack, al shabaab , a group linked to al qaeda . it is at war with somalia's government which is backed by kenya . the onslaughter began saturday just after noon. the up scale westgate mall , crowded with families enjoying an afternoon out. these pictures show the first moments of terror. heavily armed masked gunmen killed dozens of men, women and children .

>> bullets were over my head but god protected me .

>> reporter: this picture purports to show two of the young men. among the dead an 8-months pregnant woman. balita who moved here from north carolina said she hid for four hours before escaping.

>> you could hear -- we were back there. they were going store to store, talking to people. asking questions, shooting, screams and then it would stop for a while. they would go to another store.

>> reporter: others hit wherever they could, even in the air ducts. the gunmen reportedly singled out nonmuslims by testing their knowledge of the koran.

>> if they didn't know the words they were the ones who got shot. in that five hours we tried to memorize words of the koran.

>> reporter: government oh officials said during the course of the ordeal they have confirmed that three of the gunmen were killed. again, wite don't know how many there were to begin with. everyone is most concerned with the fate of the hostages, still unaccounted for in terms of what happened to them. the bottom line, the government seems convinced the situation here is now over. brian?

>> what an unbelievable scene there. ron allen live for us tonight in nairobi . some of