A British woman who lived in West Yorkshire and has allegedly been involved in terrorism “many times before” was among the militants who laid siege to a Kenyan mall, the country’s foreign minister has claimed.
Amina Mohamed said the woman acted alongside “two or three” Americans as security forces began a fourth day of fighting at the shopping centre where at least six Britons are known to have died.
The claim has fuelled speculation that British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite, who was married to the July 7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay, was involved in the atrocity which has claimed more than 60 lives. Lindsay grew up in Huddersfield but was living in Aylesbury with Lewthwaite at the time of the bombings.
However there was confusion over Ms Mohamed’s comments - made while attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York - with no confirmation either from the authorities in Nairobi or the Foreign Office in London.
They directly contradict the Kenyan interior minister Joseph Ole Lenku who yesterday told a news conference that all the attackers were male - although he suggested that some may have been dressed as women.
The Foreign Office said only that it was aware of the foreign minister’s comments.
“We continue to liaise very closely with the Kenyan authorities and to support their investigation into this attack,” a spokesman said.
“The UK will do everything it can to support the Kenyans bringing everyone responsible for this vicious attack to justice.”
Lewthwaite, who has lived in Bradford and Huddersfield and is dubbed the “White Widow”, is known to be in East Africa and is wanted by Kenyan police over alleged links to a terrorist cell that planned to bomb the country’s coast.
In March last year officials said she had fled to Somalia and that officers were hunting a woman who used several identities, including hers.
In an interview with the PBS NewsHour programme, Ms Mohamed said: “From the information that we have, two or three Americans (were involved) and I think, so far, I have heard of one Brit... a woman ... and I think she has done this many times before.”