Kenya hotel attack ends after 2 days, death toll hits 15
KONFRONTASI - Fresh gunfire and an explosion were still being heard at a hotel compound in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, a full day after Somali-based al-Shabab militants launched an attack on the building, killing at least 15 people, but the standoff was later declared over.
Al-Shabab militants started the attack on Tuesday afternoon with an explosion in the parking lot and then a bomb blast in the foyer of the dusitD2 Hotel, according to police.
Among the casualties were 11 Kenyans, an American and a Briton, officials said. The other two victims had not been identified yet.
Throughout the night, security work was underway at the compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant, and office buildings.
A number of heavily-armed foreign forces were seen deployed at the scene alongside Kenyan security officers. It is said that they were sent from foreign embassies based in Nairobi.
Gunfire resumed before dawn on Wednesday
Shortly before dawn on Wednesday, further explosions and gunfire were heard again.
A woman is rescued at the scene of an attack at a hotel complex in Kenya’s Nairobi, on January16, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Some people who had still been trapped inside the building by Wednesday were said to have been texting relatives from hiding places inside the complex.
Citing a first responder, Reuters said at least two groups of people had remained in the hotel and business complex by then.
“We have no idea what is happening. Gunshots are coming from multiple directions,” said Simon Crump, an employee at an international firm who was hiding with his colleagues.
Meanwhile, families, who gathered at the morgue to find their loved ones, said they were not allowed to view the bodies until a forensic investigation had been performed.
This prompted anger among people.
A man was quoted by Reuters as saying that he had yet to hear from a relative in the hotel complex.
“I have been trying to reach him since yesterday when the incident happened... I spoke to him when the incident started around 3:30, when they started shooting... his phone went off around 4 pm,” he said.
An ambulance arrives at the Chiromo mortuary, where the dead bodies recovered from the attack on a hotel in Nairobi, are transferred to, on January 16, 2019.
Two Red Cross ambulances were also seen outside the morgue.
‘All militants killed, attack over’
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement later in the day that the siege was over and that security forces had killed all the militants involved in the attack.
“I can now confirm that as of about one hour ago, the security operation at dusitD2 complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated,” said the president. “We are grieving as a country this morning and my heart and the heart of every Kenyan goes out to the innocent men and women violated by senseless violence.”
Al-Shabab — the al-Qaeda-linked militant outfit based in Somalia — has fought successive Somali governments as well as neighboring governments in Kenya and Uganda.
Kenya is part of a regional peacekeeping operation that supports the Somali government in its battle against the militants.