Kenyan soldiers take cover after heavy gunfire near Westgate mall in Nairobi on September 23, 2013. Kenyan Defense troops remain inside the mall, in a standoff with Somali militants after they laid siege to the shopping center shooting and throwing grenades as they entered. Somali Shebab militants on September 23 threatened to kill hostages they are holding in the Nairobi shopping mall as Kenyan troops move to end their siege. (Photo credit: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
A massive security operation is taking place in Kenya on Monday as reports say multiple large blasts have rocked Nairobi's Westgate Mall where a hostage siege is in its third day.
Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Black and grey smoke rose up from the mall.
Authorities in Kenya, communicating through social media, are appealing for calm and telling people to stay well away from the mall complex, where the operation is continuing.
Officials say that more hostages have been rescued overnight but did not offer further detail. Police say they are increasingly gaining "advantage" over the militants.
Kenya's Red Cross says the death toll has risen rose to 69 after more bodies were recovered Sunday. However, the Kenyan government revised that figure lower, telling the Reuters news agency Monday that 62 were confirmed dead.
More than 175 people were injured, including many children, Kenyan officials say.
Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists after the extremists - said to be from the al-Shabab militant network - stormed the mall Saturday from two sides, throwing grenades and firing on civilians.