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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.

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