Nairobi attack: At least 14 killed after explosions and gunfire at luxury hotel complex in Kenya capital

Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab claims responsibility, its spokesman says

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 16 January 2019 07:00
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Armed plainclothes officers take position outside Nairobi hotel as troops lead people to safety

At least 14 people have died in an apparent terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya.

The al-Shabaab Islamist group claimed its fighters were responsible for explosions and gunfire at the DusitD2 hotel complex on Tuesday.

Police said the attack had begun with an explosion in the hotel car park and a suicide bombing in the foyer leaving a number of guests with severe injuries.

Kenya's interior minister said shortly before 11pm local time that all buildings affected by the attack had been cleared by security forces.

Police chiefs first suspected a robbery at the hotel in the capital’s Westlands neighbourhood, commander Philip Ndolo said, before a spokesman admitted the force could not rule out a terror attack.

Officers later blew up a car they believed contained explosives and several other vehicles were feared to pose a danger. Armed, plainsclothes security service members were also seen at the site.

Kenya police chief Joseph Boinnet said that the incident was a suspected militant attack. “A group of unknown armed assailants attacked the Dusit complex in what we suspect could be a terror attack,” he told reporters at a briefing at about 6pm local time.

Witnesses described hearing gunshots and seeing people in the hotel and office complex “running away raising their hands up and ... entering the bank to hide for their lives” during the assault about 4pm local time.

One said he had seen attackers wearing green clothes and carriying ammunition.

“We are under attack,” a person in an office inside a complex in the DusitD2 hotel told the Reuters news agency amid the early chaos, before hanging up as thick black smoke billowed from the site where several vehicles were set ablaze.

“What I have seen is terrible. I have seen a human as I ran out and there is what looks like minced meat all over,” said one man who claimed he had been caught up in the suspected attack.

Local television reports described a confusing scene with paramedics having to wind their way through the area to reach the wounded.

Soldiers were later seen marshalling crowds and reporters at the complex in Riverside Drive.

The Somali militant group al-Shabaab claimed via its radio arm, Andalus, that it was “behind the attack”, but did not give details.

In 2013, al-Shabab extremists killed dozens of people during a days-long siege at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre, which is just over a mile away from the DusitD2 hotel.

A total of 67 people died in that attack.

Kenyan troops were among the African Union alliance forces that drove al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in 2011.

The group, thought to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters, has been affiliated with al-Qaeda since 2012 and subscribes to the ultra-conservative Wahhabi Islamic creed.

Tuesday’s apparent attack took place three years to the day after al-Shabaab attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia, killing scores of people. The group objects to the presence of Kenyan troops in the turbulent Horn of Africa nation.

Additional reporting by agencies

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