DusitD2 siege over after suspected attackers killed | 2019-01-17

DusitD2 siege over after suspected attackers killed

BBC

17th January, 2019 01:51:34 printer

DusitD2 siege over after suspected attackers killed

A deadly siege by suspected militants in Nairobi has ended after all the attackers were "eliminated", Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.

 

Gunmen attacked a compound in the Westlands district of Kenya's capital on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people.

 

Some 19 people are still missing, Kenya's Red Cross has said.

 

The Somalia-based Islamist militant group al-Shabab said it was behind the attack on the complex, which houses the luxury DusitD2 hotel.

 

Reuters news agency, citing a statement from the group, reports that al-Shabab said Tuesday's attack was "a response" to US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

It is not clear how many attackers there were, but Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet told AFP news agency that "five terrorists" had been involved.

 

Two people believed to be linked to Tuesday's siege were arrested following raids on properties on Wednesday, AFP reported.

 

Confirming an end to the security operation at Dusit during a televised address, Kenyatta said that 14 people had been reported killed and many more were injured, but that 700 others were safely evacuated.

 

He added that "every person that was involved in the funding, planning and execution of this heinous act" would be "relentlessly" pursued.

 

Who are the victims?

US citizen Jason Spindler is among the dead. His brother, Jonathan, announced on Twitter that Jason had survived the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001.

 

In an interview with US broadcaster NBC, Sarah Spindler said her son had been trying to "make a positive change in the third world in emerging markets".

 

British citizen Luke Potter, who held dual South African nationality, was also killed, and another Briton was wounded, the UK Foreign Office said.

 

Kenyan James Oduor, commonly known as Cobra, was tweeting as the attack was unfolding. He was known for his love of football and well liked.

 

Two Kenyan friends, Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed, were having lunch together in the grounds of the hotel when the suicide bomber struck, Reuters news agency reports. Friends described the pair as inseparable.

 

On Wednesday, people made their way to a mortuary in Nairobi to help identify the bodies of their relatives and friends.

 

A stark reminder of al-Shabab

After 19 hours of terror, gunfire, bloodshed and inevitable confusion, the siege at an upmarket hotel and business complex in the hills west of Nairobi's central business district ended abruptly on Wednesday morning.

 

Throughout the night, cowering groups of civilians - many had spent hours hiding in their offices or in bathrooms - were escorted to safety by security forces amid sporadic bursts of gunfire and the boom of explosions that continued well beyond dawn.

 

On the crowded street outside the large, upmarket complex, friends and relatives embraced those who emerged and thanked Kenyan security forces.

How did the attack unfold?

The attack began at about 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT) when the gunmen threw bombs at vehicles in the car park before entering the lobby, where one blew himself up, police say.

 

A woman working in a neighbouring building told Reuters: "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."

 

Security camera footage showed at least four heavily armed men walking in and opening fire. There are reports they had been seen visiting the compound in recent days.

 

At 23:00, a government official said that all the buildings in the complex had been secured by security forces.

 

But just an hour later, gunfire and sporadic explosions were reported in the area. There was more heavy gunfire at about 07:00 on Wednesday.

 

Security forces then combed their way through the building where frightened workers had barricaded themselves inside.

 

The five-star DusitD2 hotel has 101 rooms. Located in the Westlands suburb, minutes from the capital's business district, it has its own spa and several restaurants.

 

What happened inside the complex?

When the gunmen first entered the complex there was confusion, as people first tried to escape to freedom and then retreated into the building as they came under fire.

 

One eyewitness, Faith Chepchirchir, told Reuters: "People were trying to run towards the gate, but then I saw everyone who was running towards the gate was coming back from the gate, now heading to this opposite direction.

 

"So for me we just closed the doors and then gunshots were just being sprayed all over. From the top, I think [the gunmen] went to the top floor and then started spraying bullets."

 

Many civilians remained holed up in the complex for several hours, as they hid from the attackers in bathrooms, and even under tables and chairs.

 

Some were able to keep in contact with loved ones by text.

 

They included Zinzi Khalwale, daughter of a former senator Boni Khalwale. Her father told The Daily Nation she had hidden in one of the rooms of her office until her rescue.

 

By the evening, all but the seventh floor of the complex had been cleared, but some civilians remained there, apparently in close proximity to the surviving attackers.

 

Who are al-Shabab?

They oppose the Somali government but have also carried out attacks throughout East Africa.

 

Kenya is part of a regional peacekeeping operation that supports the Somali government in its battle against al-Shabab.

 

In September 2013, al-Shabab gunmen entered the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and targeted shoppers.

 

During an 80-hour siege at the upscale centre, 67 people were killed.

 

Two years later, the group carried out its deadliest ever assault in Kenya, shooting dead almost 150 people at Garissa University.

 

Why is Jerusalem an issue?

Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of US foreign policy by recognising Israel's claim.

 

Israel regards the whole of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while Palestinians claim the eastern sector of the city - occupied by Israel since 1967 - as the capital of a future state.

 

The city is home to religious sites sacred to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.


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