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4 Somalis charged with aiding Westgate Mall attack

NAIROBI — Kenyan authorities have charged four Somali nationals with offenses related to September’s terrorist attack on Westgate Mall that killed 67 people.

A court ordered the four men — Mohamed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar, Hussein Hassan Mustafah, and Adan Dheq — imprisoned until a court hearing next week. All four pleaded not guilty.

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Among the charges were harboring a fugitive and illegally registering as a Kenyan. The charges had to be read to the defendants in Somali by a translator.

Authorities have detained dozens of people after the four-day mall siege but had not said any suspects were directly related to the attack. It’s unclear how many arrests have been made.

The Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in retaliation for Kenya’s deployment of troops in southern Somalia.

Abdi, Omar, and Mustafah were charged with knowingly supporting Mohammed Abdinur Said and Hassan Dhohullow and others identified as perpetrators of the terrorist attack.

Dheq was accusing of harboring terror suspects. Authorities said a mosque in Nairobi’s Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh knowingly harbored Abdikadir Hared Mohammed, a terror suspect.

The four are due back in court Nov. 11.

While the Westgate Mall attack was the highest-profile terrorist action by Islamic extremists in East Africa since the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, a low-level conflict has been simmering for years in the region, particularly in Kenya, which has been a recruiting ground for Al Shabab and where police are accused of kidnapping and killing suspected extremists.

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