Assailants recognized as Shabab militants attacked a Nairobi luxurious lodge and workplace advanced on Tuesday, spreading loss of life and panic because the police in Kenya’s capital evacuated civilians and sealed off the world.
The KTN News Kenya service mentioned at the very least 5 folks had been killed within the assault, throughout which certainly one of Nairobi’s most safe areas was punctuated by gunfire and explosions. Others mentioned the loss of life toll was at the very least seven. The Kenyan authorities mentioned didn’t present a casualty determine.
The State Department confirmed late Tuesday that one sufferer was an American however offered no particulars.
One attacker was a suicide bomber, the police mentioned, detonating an explosion within the foyer of the seven-story DusitD2 Hotel. The variety of different assailants, armed with grenades and weapons, was not clear. Security digital camera footage launched to native media shops confirmed at the very least 4 armed males within the advanced.
The police warned it was doable that among the assailants had been nonetheless inside Nairobi’s 14 Riverside Drive advanced, which incorporates the lodge, a part of a Thai-owned worldwide chain. By late night, nevertheless, the Interior Ministry mentioned the advanced was protected.
“I can now report that we have secured all the buildings that have been affected by these events,” Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i mentioned in an announcement broadcast on nationwide tv. “I can also now report that the country is now secure, that the nation remains calm and that Kenyans and all our visitors are safe and should feel free to continue going about their normal business.”
Mr. Matiang’i additionally mentioned “we are now in the final stages of mopping up the area and securing evidence and documenting the consequences of this unfortunate event,” however mentioned nothing about fatalities or accidents.
The assault by the Shabab, an Islamist extremist group with ties to Al Qaeda that has carried out many assaults in japanese Africa, got here on the eve of a verdict within the trial of three males accused of serving to the Shabab orchestrate a lethal assault on a the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi five years ago.
The inspector general of the police, Joseph Boinett, said Tuesday’s assault began at the I&M bank with an explosion that targeted three vehicles and “a suicide explosion in the foyer of Dusit hotel where a number of guests suffered severe injuries.”
Mr. Boinett told reporters that a “swift and targeted response by our security agencies” had contained the attack and that at least one suspect was in custody.
Dr. Mercy Korir, a physician at a Nairobi hospital, confirmed that at least 15 people had been wounded. Several hospitals in the city were appealing for blood donations, and the Kenya Red Cross opened a hotline for family members searching for loved ones.
Nairobi’s sprawling Village Market shopping complex, in the Gigiri neighborhood five miles away, closed temporarily after news of the attack broke, as a security precaution.
The raid began around 3 p.m. in the Westland area of the city, the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors the group’s activities, said. Witnesses told KTN News Kenya that four men had jumped out of a white car and opened fire as they arrived at a security checkpoint, before blasting their way into the complex.
“I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up, and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives,” a woman working in the neighborhood told Reuters.
Police and counterterrorism officers quickly surrounded the complex, and videos showed security officers evacuating dozens of people from the buildings while gunfire crackled in the background and cars burned.
“I tried to escape with a friend but she fainted as we ran away from the gunshots,” one woman told KTN News. “So I had to leave her and hide in one of the bathrooms until the police came and rescued me.”
One man emerged covered with blood, and others less obviously wounded were also sent to nearby hospitals. As of 6 p.m., an unspecified number of people were still huddled inside the complex, according to local news reports and posts on Twitter.
“We are under attack at 14 Riverside Drive,” said a Twitter user identified as Miss Rachel. She later posted a message that she had been rescued.
One witness said she had seen body parts as she left the site. There were reports of gun victims, including at least one child, being treated at local hospitals.
The Shabab, which is based in Somalia, has been fighting the United Nations-backed government in Mogadishu, Somalia, for years, seeking to impose its strict interpretation of Islam.
In recent months, the group has carried out a spate of attacks in Kenya, killing dozens.
Tuesday’s attack came exactly three years after the group assaulted a Kenyan military base in Somalia that killed around 140 soldiers.
The group’s 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall killed 67 people. The three men accused of aiding the Shabab in that attack have denied the charges. A fourth suspect was acquitted earlier.
David Aronsen, a Shabab expert at the University of Warwick in England, said the group was known for plots timed to significant dates.
“If you look at their propaganda this is a very self-evidently determined policy,” he said. “So the authorities in Nairobi would have been on their guard in the last few days given the coincidence of Shabab-related events around this time of the calendar.”
The United States military has stepped up its attacks against Shabab in Somalia in recent months. The military conducted 47 strikes in 2018, up from 31 in 2017.
And the Americans already have carried out five strikes in 2019, most recently on Jan. 8 against a Shabab encampment in Somalia’s Yaaq Braawe, Bay Region.
But the ability of the militants to attack targets not only in Somalia but in neighboring Kenya punctuated its resilience.
“Despite the increased targeting of Shabab over the last few years, there is no evidence to support the assertion that Shabab’s insurgency has been abated or its leadership cadre has been depleted,” said Bill Roggio, editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, a website run by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that tracks military strikes against militant groups.
“Shabab continues to maintain an effective insurgency, controls large rural areas in southern and central Somalia, and continues to threaten Somali cities and towns,” he added.