(Reuters) – Norway said on Thursday that one of its citizens may have been involved in the attack on a Kenyan shopping mall last month which killed at least 67 people and was claimed by Somali Islamist militants.
More than two weeks after the mall assault, the worst attack on Kenyan soil since al Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in 1998, it remains unclear how many gunmen were involved and what their nationalities were.
Kenyan government officials at the time of the raid said 10-15 militants had stormed the upscale mall, but so far only four have been named. Witnesses have said some of the gunmen may have escaped the building early on in the four-day stand-off with the military.
Norwegian investigators were now in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Norway’s police security service, known as PST, said.
“PST has received information that a Norwegian citizen of Somali origin may have been involved in the planning and execution of the attack, and PST decided to initiate an investigation on this basis,” PST said in a statement.
Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels have said they staged the attack as an act of revenge for Kenya’s military campaign in the Horn of Africa nation to help neutralize al Shabaab and restore order there after two decades of anarchy.
Jan Glent, a PST section leader, told Norway’s private broadcaster TV2 that he could not rule out “more Norway-linked suspects”.
U.S. special forces carried out a raid on the Somali town of Barawe, a rebel stronghold south of the capital Mogadishu, on Saturday to capture a militant commander linked to multiple plots against Kenya. The mission failed after the Navy SEALS retreated under heavy gunfire.
U.S. officials identified the target as Ikrima, the nom de guerre of Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar who Kenyan and Western security agencies say was a go-between for commanders of al Shabaab with al Qaeda and Kenya’s home-bred militants.
Earlier this week, Norwegian TV2 reported Ikrima travelled to Norway where he applied for asylum, but left in 2008 before there was a decision on his application. When in Norway, he lived in the Oslo area but visited Somalia, the channel said.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; writing by Richard Lough in Nairobi, editing by Mark Heinrich)