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PM to chair Kenya emergency meeting
Trucks of soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (AP)
David Cameron is returning to Downing Street to oversee the response to the Nairobi terror attack that has claimed scores of lives - including at least three Britons.
The Prime Minister, who has warned the country to be braced for "more bad news", is cutting short a Balmoral visit to chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting.
Gunfire has reportedly been heard from inside the Westgate Mall on Monday morning, where Kenyan Defence Forces are still involved in a hostage rescue operation. Earlier the authorities said "most of the hostages" had already been rescued and the majority of the building had been secured in a major military operation.
The UK has offered Kenya assistance, including intelligence co-operation, in response to the attack by Islamic extremists in the upmarket shopping centre which has left 68 dead and more than 170 injured, including many children. One of the Britons killed in the attack has been named in reports as Ross Langdon, who had dual nationality with Australia. The architect is believed to have died alongside his girlfriend who was heavily pregnant.
Somali-based militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the atrocity, which Mr Cameron described as an "absolutely sickening and despicable act of appalling brutality".
The Foreign Office is investigating suggestions that a female British terror suspect nicknamed the "White Widow" could have been linked to the plot. Witness accounts have suggested a woman was among the attackers, fuelling speculation that wanted Samantha Lewthwaite, who was married to July 7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay, was involved. She is wanted by Kenyan police over links to a suspected terrorist cell planning bomb attacks. In March 2012 it was reported that Lewthwaite, 29, who is originally from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, had fled across the border from Kenya to Somalia.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the reports and we are looking into them."The spokesman added: "It is really difficult to substantiate. We are looking at the names and seeing what we can find out."
A Twitter account purporting to be an al-Shabab spokesman named a 24-year-old man from London as one of the gunmen. The @hsm_press2 account listed a string of names it claimed were involved in the attack before being closed down, as previous usernames linked to the terrorist group had been.
Terrified shoppers have told of how they huddled in back hallways as gunmen threw grenades and then opened fire. Witness Elijah Kamau said the gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave and that non-Muslims would be targeted, as they began their attack. Among those dead was reportedly a pregnant woman who had organised a children's party at the mall.
Foreigners from France, Canada, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Ghana and the US were also killed in the attack, including a Canadian diplomat working at Canada's High Commission to Kenya. UK staff from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia travelled to assist locally based officials with the efforts in Nairobi and a rapid deployment team was sent from London, the Foreign Office said.