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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Irish-born 'white widow' may be among three dead hostage-takers in Kenya

Samantha Lewthwaite with Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers in London
Samantha Lewthwaite with Jermaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers in London
Locals take cover as shots ring out
Locals, police and journalists take cover as shots ring out
Smoke rises from the Westgate shopping centre after explosions at the mall in Nairobi as soldiers attempt to storm the building

AN Irish-born terrorism suspect may be among three hostage-takers killed in Kenya.

Speculation was growing last night that terrorism suspect Samantha Lewthwaite had been killed as Kenyan military forces attempted to end the three-day siege at a shopping centre.

The woman is believed to be Lewthwaite – who is from Banbridge, Co Down – who is already wanted in Kenya on terror charges.

A Muslim convert, she had been dubbed the "white widow" because of her marriage to Jermaine Lindsay, who blew up an underground train at King's Cross in London in 2005, killing 26 people.

She has been on the run in east Africa for two years after allegedly plotting to attack Western targets in Kenya.

Her father was a British soldier posted in the North during the Troubles, who married a local woman.

Lewthwaite converted to Islam in her teenage years and later married Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers.

She then married another jihadist while on the run in Africa where she became a leader of the al-Shabaab terror grouping.

Lewthwaite later arranged the assassination of a terror rival in an attack that also claimed the life of her second husband, Habib Ghani. She did not even acknowledge the fact he had been murdered.

Family friends in Banbridge yesterday said the publicity surrounding Lewthwaite in recent years had deeply affected her grandmother who lives near the town centre.

Elizabeth Allen is said to be devastated by the revelations regarding her grand-daughter.

It is understood the stress on Ms Allen, who is in her late 80s, is such she was hospitalised recently.

The frail pensioner previously told how she was issued with a panic alarm with which she was to contact police if Lewthwaite ever made contact with her.

A Kenyan intelligence officer and two soldiers each claimed that one of the al-Shabaab terrorists who had been killed by the security forces in the Westgate shopping mall was a white female.

Another Kenyan intelligence source said video footage from within the complex did show a white woman among the attackers.

The official death toll from the massacre stood at 62 last night, with 63 people still listed as missing.

Kenyan special forces were inching through the mall as hostages faced their third night being held by the terrorists, and gunfire continued to echo around the shopping centre which was partially on fire.

Meanwhile, a book of condolences has been opened for the son of the former Kenyan ambassador to Ireland who died in the terrorist attack.

Mbugua Mwangi (28) and his fiancee Rosemary Wahito were killed by the terrorists at the weekend.

Mr Mwangi was the only son of former Kenya ambassador to Ireland Catherine Muigai Mwangi.

It is understood Mr Mwangi and Ms Wahito were among the first killed in the attack. Their bodies were recovered on the same day.

The book of condolences will be opened from today until Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 2.30pm to 4pm at the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Ballsbridge.

By Mike Pflanz  and Fiona Ellis

Irish Independent

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