Printed on: September 25, 2013

Mass starvation feared amid Syria fighting


BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian opposition groups and international relief organizations are warning of the risk of mass starvation across the country, especially in the besieged Damascus suburbs where a gas attack killed hundreds last month.

With the world's attention focused on the regime's chemical weapons, activists said six people -- including an 18-month girl -- have died for lack of food in one of the stricken suburbs in recent weeks.

Save the Children said Monday that more than 4 million Syrians, more than half of them children, do not have enough to eat. Food shortages have been compounded by an explosion in prices.

Thousands of people are believed trapped in suburbs east and west of the capital that have been held for months by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Regime troops are besieging the areas, and residents say food is increasingly hard to find. Rebels say they are trying to break the blockade.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenya's president proclaimed victory Tuesday over the terrorists who stormed a Nairobi mall, saying security forces had "ashamed and defeated our attackers" following a bloody four-day siege in which dozens of civilians were killed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the dead included 61 civilians whose bodies have been recovered so far and six security forces, while some 175 were injured, including 62 who remain hospitalized.

Three floors of the mall collapsed and several bodies were trapped in the rubble, said Kenyatta. His office later said a terrorist's body was among those in the debris.

Five other extremists were killed by gunfire and another 11 other suspects had been arrested, he said; authorities had previously announced the arrest of seven at the airport and three elsewhere.

Kenyatta, 51, has visited wounded survivors in hospitals and made other emotion-filled speeches about the terrorist attack, which has been the harshest test of his leadership since he became president in April.

At the Westgate mall, there were no immediate signs of the Kenyan Security forces closing their operation.

Two Kenyan soldiers who had recently been inside the mall told The Associated Press shortly before the president spoke that the operation was effectively finished, but they said security forces were still combing the facility and had not definitively cleared all the rooms inside.