NAIROBI, Kenya -- Heavy gunfire broke out again at dawn Monday at the Nairobi shopping mall where an attack by Somali militants Saturday killed at least 68 people.
The Kenyan military said late Sunday that it had rescued most of the hostages inside the upscale mall and that they were launching a final assault against the assailants.
It was not known how many hostages had been rescued, nor how many remained in the hands of gunmen said to be from the Al Qaeda-linked group the Shabab.
The barrage of gunfire early Monday lasted a few minutes, then stopped.
As the siege entered its third day, two military or police helicopters circled low over the building.
Late Sunday a large explosion was heard at the mall shortly before Kenyan officials announced on Twitter that they were mounting the assault to dislodge the attackers.
About 1,000 people escaped during the attack Saturday, according to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Early Monday, a Kenyan military spokesman said the fate of hostages in the mall was unclear. This appeared to contradict a statement late Sunday from the Kenyan Defense Ministry that most of the hostages in the mall had been rescued. The reasons for the contradiction were not apparent.
Special correspondent Soi reported from Nairobi and Times staff writer Dixon from Johannesburg, South Africa.