Kenyan security forces have killed the militants who stormed an upscale Nairobi hotel compound, taking at least 14 lives and forcing hundreds of others to make terrifying escapes, the government said on Wednesday.
More than 700 civilians were evacuated from the Dusit D2 complex after a 20-hour siege that echoed a 2013 assault that killed 67 people in Nairobi’s Westgate shopping center in the same neighborhood.
Some hid under desks as bullets shattered plate glass doors. Others jumped from
“The security operation at Dusit complex is over, and all the terrorists eliminated,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation, looking drained and grave.
“As of this moment, we can confirm that 14 innocent lives were lost through the hands of these murderous terrorists.”
Kenyatta did not specify how many assailants there were, but CCTV clips showed at least five dressed in black.
One is seen waiting outside the restaurant before blowing himself up in a cloud of debris just after 3 p.m. (1200 GMT). Four others then shoot assault rifles crossing the car park.
The attack was claimed by Somali group al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate fighting an insurgency to topple the weak U.N.-backed government and impose strict Islamic law.
Air strikes against the group have stepped up under U.S. President Donald Trump, but Tuesday’s attack showed it retains
Neighboring Kenya, a hub for expatriates, became a frequent target for al Shabaab after sending troops into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the long, porous border.
At least two groups of people had still been trapped inside as dawn broke, and gunfire continued to ring out. Some of those trapped inside sent out messages out begging for medical help.
Eleven Kenyans, an American and a Briton were among the casualties, morgue staff said. By Wednesday lunchtime, messages still circulated on social media asking for help finding people.
Some victims had been dining in the Secret Garden restaurant and lay slumped at tables, photos
The complex is home to offices of international companies including Colgate Palmolive (CL.N), Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L), Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA), Dow Chemical (DWDP.N) and SAP (SAPG.DE), as well as the dusitD2 hotel, part of Thai group Dusit Thani (DTC.BK).
Kenya is home to hundreds of diplomats, aid workers, businessmen
Hiram Macharia, a marketing executive at LG Electronics, heard the first blast around 3 p.m.
“I grabbed a fire extinguisher and we started going downstairs. Then we saw two of the attackers firing at the elevators and we turned back. We hid under desks in our office,” he told Reuters outside the hotel.
“They were firing twice at each of the elevator doors and the two staircase doors on each floor as they walked up the building. One of them fired at our office doors, entered slightly and then moved on.”
Macharia hid in his office, but one colleague ran to the roof and was shot dead there, he added.
The overnight blasts and shots undercut assurances from the interior minister on Tuesday evening that the complex was secured, provoking anger and scorn from some at the scene.
But the initial response on social media was largely supportive of security forces. They appeared to have avoided the mistakes made at the 2013
“I thank ... the rescue operations commander ... n the rest of the security forces for saving the
Mamadou Dia was on a business trip from Paris for STP Consultants when he ended up huddled in a room with Chinese and Canadian residents of the hotel and a waiter who worked there.
He received updates on his telephone.
“They told us by text that the police knew we were in that room and that they would come, and one and a half hours later, the police came to evacuate us,” he said.
As armed officers escorted them out, the attackers started shooting at them “like snipers,” he said, adding that police fired back.
Families who went to Nairobi’s Chiromo morgue were told they could not view bodies until a forensic investigation had been performed, provoking grief and anger.
The family of a missing 35-year-old man collapsed upon hearing a body had arrived with his identification papers.
“He is gone, he is gone,” the father repeated into his phone as his mother wrapped a shawl around herself and wept.
Another family arrived, demanding to see whether their relative was there but
As they argued, an elderly couple arrived in silence, bringing a freshly pressed suit to dress their dead son.