'Many of the survivors said the assailants killed most of the victims when they first stormed the church. Most of those who survived had sought shelter in a room at the front of the church barricaded by bookshelves, which the assailants were unable to enter.
An American official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said security forces decided to storm the church after they believed that the assailants had begun killing hostages.
Had they not entered, he said, the toll would have been worse. “Our information was the hostage takers had begun to systematically execute hostages,” he said.'