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TODAY   |  September 23, 2013

Police close in on attackers in Kenya mall siege

As Kenyan police and military enter their third day in a dramatic showdown inside an upscale Nairobi mall, police say they have corralled the 10 to 15 attackers into one section of the building. NBC’s Ron Allen Reports.

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>> get to today's top story, the deadly mall attack in kenya where militants are still holding an unknown number of hostages in a two-day standoff that left 68 people dead. let's get to ron allen in nairobi with the latest. good morning, what can you tell us?

>> good morning, savannah. we're behind security from the mall down this road but we could hear or see the force of the explosion. there's six or seven of them in succession. there's long been concern that they may have trapped the mall. the military has been bringing reinforcements down this road late yesterday. helicopters are circling to keep an eye on what's going on. a situation that's building because the kenyan government is concerned about what's going on there. we're moving into the third day now. it's believed there are 10 to 15 heavily armed gunmen inside and 10 to 15 hostages as well. the government says they have confined the gunmen to an area of the mall and gotten most of the hostages out and today, clearly, they wanted to bring the situation to an end.

>> reporter: this morning, kenyan police and military units say they have the gunmen with their hostages confined to one section of the four-story upscale mall. but despite that, the siege here enters a third day. these pictures just released show thor the firing moment, the mall packed with families, when the gunmen struck.

>> it seemed like anywhere you looked there would be another body.

>> reporter: new york time's photographer tyler hick who is lives nearby raced to the scene.

>> terrified people were crying and screaming and running for their lives.

>> reporter: among them elaine, a 26-year-old from san diego who was working as a guide in nairobi . this morning she is one of five americans recovering from injuries sustained in the attack. the militants from al-shabab claimed responsibility. sending troops into where they're from. u.s. officials are investigating claims that as many as 5 u.s. citizens were among the attackers. the attempt to end the siege began last night with helicopters circling from above. the military said it hoped to end the standoff on sunday but clearly that did not happen.

>> and now we seem to be into another push. you, again, can see the smoke. it's thick and black and billowing for the last 45 minutesor so. this road is the main route into the hospital for ambulances. we have seen military ambulances coming out with lights and sirens blaring. perhaps carrying wounded soldiers or hostages. it's unclear. it's difficult to get a real grasp on what's going on inside the mall. the kenyan military has been building up it's troops out here. there's also a front on the other side of the mall where they're approaching as well. after the explosions, there was a lot of chaos in the neighborhood. a lot of sporadic gunfire we could hear. some of it was just dispersing of the crowd. there you see an ambulance from the hospital going down to the scene. perhaps to retrieve soldiers or hostages, again. we think there are 10 or so hostages still in there. men, women, or children who were shoppers on an ordinary saturday afternoon when this erupted. the kenyan government is determined to end this. they're concerned about the safety of the hostages but they wanted to and they have been showing a strong and brave front when faced by this threat. this terrible act by al-shabab. an organization with link with al qaeda trying to exert more influence in this part of the world. from an american perspective, five americans that were wounded. the wife of a retired u.s. diplomat was killed. she's the only american fatality, connected to an american family that we know of but the government trying to bring this to an end.

>> be careful there. an unfolding situation in nairobi .