Militants Claim Kenya Mall Rescuers Buried Hostages with Explosives

Government denies the charge

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The militant group responsible for the bloody four-day takeover of a mall in Kenya charged Wednesday that government forces seeking to quell the violence carried out a “demolition” in the building using chemical weapons that buried 137 hostages in the process.

Manoah Esipisu, a Kenyan government spokesman, denied the claim, telling the Associated Press that no such weapons had been used. He said floors of the mall collapsed after the al-Shabab fighters started a fire.

The official civilian death toll stands at 61 after militants stormed the mall Saturday and the government claimed to finally have stopped them Tuesday. But officials say the count will likely rise, with dozens of bodies possibly still inside the mall.