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Archbishop of Canterbury offers prayer for Kenya

The Most Revd Justin Welby is praying for all those caught up in the terrorist attack in Kenya. Several blasts and gunfire have been heard today and black smoke has been seen billowing from the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, where militants are holding hostages. The massacre, which began on Saturday, has seen at least 69 people killed and more than 170 injured. Tweeting from his @ABCJustin account the Archbishop of Canterbury said: "May Jesus who knows suffering, strengthen deliver those caught in Nairobi, heal the wounded, comfort the bereaved with the hope He brings". His prayer comes as Kenyan security forces try to break the seige - police say troops are "closing in" on the attackers. Four Britons are among those killed - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said next of kin had been informed. Mr Hammond said: "We're in touch with the Kenyan authorities. "We stand ready to provide them with any additional assistance they require. "We'll be monitoring the situation throughout the day." The Somali al-Shabab movement - which has links to al-Qaeda - said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia. It was tweeting events as they were happening but the account has since been suspended. There's still confusion about how many gunmen or hostages are involved as officials have imposed a news blackout.

TV pictures have shown troops running towards the complex and it's believed ten attackers are thought to be inside.

Revd John Itumu is the Chair of UK Based Kenya Church Association. He told Premier's Des Busteed on the News Hour he's been encouraged by Christians who've been standing in solidarity with those who've been caught up in the attack:

David Cameron is said to be cutting short a visit to Balmoral to return to Downing Street to chair an emergency meeting as the terror attack in Kenya continues. 

It's reported the attackers asked Muslims to leave and only killed those who could not recite verses from the Koran or name the mother of the prophet Mohammed. In October this year a large number of Anglicans will be heading to Nairobi for the GAFCON conference. One of the organisers - former Archbishop of Sydney Most Revd Peter Jensen - has released a video message on the GAFCON website to all those attending. He says he's visiting the city this week and following the events of the last three days safety is the number one concern.

Mr Cameron called the attack "an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality".

He said:

"These appalling terrorist attacks where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion - they don't.

"They do it in the name of terror, violence, extremism and their warped view of the world. They don't represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world."

British nationals concerned about friends or family can contact the Foreign Office on +44 (0)20 7008 0000.

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