The Age: Gunmen have blasted their way into a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital, killing at least seven people, sending workers diving under desks and leaving body parts strewn in the street.
The attack sent people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the complex on Tuesday. A witness said he saw five bodies at the entrance alone.
Al-Shabab – the Somalia-based Islamic group… – claimed responsibility.
“It is terrible. What I have seen is terrible,” said Charles Njenga, who ran from a scene of blood, broken glass, burning vehicles and pillars of black smoke.
“The main door of the hotel was blown open and there was a human arm in the street severed from the shoulder,” said Serge Medic, the Swiss owner of a security company who ran to the scene to help when he heard of the attack from his taxi driver.
The coordinated assault began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank, and a suicide bombing in the hotel lobby that severely wounded a number of guests, said Kenya’s national police chief, Joseph Boinnet.
Survivors reported hearing a shattering blast and saw people mowed down by gunmen as they sat at a cafe. Victims were left lying on tables, bleeding.
“We were changing our shifts, and that is when I heard a loud blast and people were screaming,” said Enoch Kibet, who works as a cleaner at the cafe and managed to crawl out a basement gate. “I couldn’t believe I was alive. The blast was so loud and shook the whole complex.”
Authorities sent special forces into the hotel, which is near the Australian consulate, to flush out the gunmen believed holed up inside.
Well after nightfall, Kenya’s interior minister said ‘the situation is under control’ and all buildings were secure after the deadly attack.
It was not clear how many attackers laid siege to the complex, which includes the DusitD2 hotel, along with bars, restaurants, banks and offices and is in a well-to-do neighbourhood with large numbers of American, European and Indian expatriates.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media said that bodies were seen in restaurants downstairs and in offices upstairs, but “there was no time to count the dead.”
Also, a witness who gave his name only as Ken said he saw five bodies at the entrance. He said that other people were shouting for help and “when we rushed back to try to rescue them, gunshots started coming from upstairs, and we had to duck because they were targeting us and we could see two guys shooting.”
Kenyan hospitals appealed for blood donations even as the number of wounded remained unclear.
Associated Press video from inside the hotel showed Kenyan security officers searching the building and scared workers emerging from hiding while gunfire could still be heard. Some women climbed out of windows. One man got up from the floor where he appeared to be trying to hide under a piece of wood panelling, then showed his ID.
Like al-Shabab’s Westgate Mall attack, this one appeared aimed at wealthy Kenyans and foreigners living in the country. It came a day after a magistrate ruled that three men must stand trial in connection with the Westgate Mall siege. A fourth suspect was freed for lack of evidence.
Al-Shabab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011. The al-Qaida-linked group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya.
A Kenyan intelligence official said the country had been on high alert since November, with information about potential attacks on high-profile targets in Nairobi. The official was not authorised to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity…
Despite the years of bloodshed, the Kenya-Somalia border remains porous, with al-Shabab extremists able to easily bribe their way across, according to a U.N. panel of experts.
The hotel complex in Nairobi’s Westlands neighbourhood is about two kilometres [from] Westgate Mall on a relatively quiet, tree-lined road in what is considered one of the most secure parts of the city. The hotel’s website says it is “cocooned away from the hustle and bustle in a secure and peaceful haven.”
The Bible predicts terrorism in the last days. It also predicts that God’s people who are in Christ will not fear them.
“Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Psalm 91:5