Kenya’s foreign minister has fuelled speculation that Aylesbury’s Samantha Lewthwaite may be involved in the Nairobi terrorist attack.
Amina Mohamed told PBS NewsHour a British woman is believed to be among the group and that she has ‘done this many times before’.
Some reports have also suggested a white woman is among three militants killed when Kenyan forces stormed Nairobi’s Westgate complex.
Lewthwaite, who married 7/7 London bomber Jermaine Lindsay and is known as the White Widow, is allegedly a key member of al-Shabaab, the group which has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has left at least 62 people dead.
There were also been reports of a balaclava-clad white woman holding a gun being seen in the shopping centre, although other Kenyan officials have said all the terrorists are men, with some dressed as woman.
There has been no confirmation of the 29 year old mother-of-three’s involvement in the attack, but the Daily Mail claims a senior Kenyan anti-terror officer said: “We believe she was commanding the operation but her fate is not yet known. It is understood she was a sniper also.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said of the claims about Lewthwaite: “We are aware of them and we are looking into them.
“We are not speculating about this.”
Lewthwaite, who went to the Grange school, has been on the run since being linked with a plot to blow up a shopping centre in Mombasa, Kenya’s second city.
Councillor Raj Khan, who knew Lewthwaite before the 7/7 attack, said people should not jump to conclusions.
Mr Khan said: “I’m worried that the picture that has been demonising her may be premature because it has not been substantiated.
“Unless there is hard evidence we should not just unnecessarily jump to conclusions.
“Whether she is part of this horrific tragedy or not, we will remain as one community.”
Mr Khan described Lewthwaite as a ‘family friend’ before she disappeared.
He said: “She was an innocent young person.
“She would do anything to accommodate other people, she was a very good human being.
“She did everything to help others.”
Kenyan security forces say they have taken control of all floors of the shopping centre, which was raided by militants on Saturday, although an explosion and gunfire was heard on Tuesday morning.
Around 170 people are believed to have been injured, with six Britons confirmed among the dead.