Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab takes responsibility for terrorist attack on luxury Kenya hotel
The attack on the complex, which includes a restaurant and a business center, began at around 3 pm local time, when a band of armed militants launched grenades at vehicles outside the hotel.
“We were changing our shifts and that is when I heard a loud blast and people were screaming,” Enoch Kiber, a janitor at the hotel, told AP. “I couldn't believe I was alive. The blast was so loud and shook the whole complex.”
A suicide bomber then entered the main lobby of the five-star establishment and detonated himself.
“The main door of the hotel was blown open and there was a human arm in the street severed from the shoulder,” Serge Medic, an employee of a Swiss company that works in one of the offices in the complex, told Reuters.
Footage from site showed employees fleeing on foot, clambering out of windows, and hiding behind desks as gunshots rang out.
Special security forces were sent in to clear the hotel, and by Tuesday evening police declared that they had re-established control and that “the country is safe” following what they called a terrorist incident.
Conflicting reports about the number of victims have emerged since. A mortician told Reuters that 14 bodies had been identified, but it remains unclear how many were the victims and how many were the attackers themselves.
The US State Department confirmed late on Tuesday that one of its citizens had been killed in the attack, while the mortuary employee told the media that a Briton was also among the dead. Local media reported that another 30 people were receiving treatment in hospital.
Somalia-based fundamentalist militia Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the assault. It was the worst terrorist incident in Kenya since the 2015 attack by the same group on a university in Garissa, in which nearly 150 people died.
#Breaking: Explosions and gunfire near upscale hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. We are watching live video from the scene. Cars are burning and we are hearing loud pops that sound like gunfire. I've seen at least two people carried away with injuries. #KOMOnewspic.twitter.com/PLEfbtCOV5— Cayle Thompson, KOMO (@CayleThompson) January 15, 2019
Al-Shabab, which says that the attack was in reprisal for the presence of Kenyan peacekeeping forces in Somalia, has used similar tactics before, when it attacked the Westgate shopping mall in the same neighborhood of the Kenyan capital in 2013.
The storming of DusitD2 came a day after a Kenyan court declared that three of the suspected attackers on the shopping center would face trial.
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