Sunday, 20 October, 2019

Gunfire, blast at upscale complex in Kenya's capital

Security forces evacuating people from the 14 Security forces evacuating people from the 14 Riverside Drive Nairobi
Pablo Mccormick | 16 January, 2019, 13:12

A member of the security forces is seen reflected in a window as he looks at bullet-holes, at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

Extremists launched a deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya's capital today, sending people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the complex.

Mr Kenyatta said 14 civilians were confirmed killed and over 700 others had been evacuated to safety by security forces.

The Shabaab, which carried out a notorious assault on a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013, claimed responsibility, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadist activities.

At least two groups of people had still been trapped inside as dawn broke, and gunfire continued to ring out around the complex in Riverside Drive. Its government has never given a death toll for the 2016 raid.

In an addition to the American victim, eleven Kenyans and a Briton were among the casualties, local officials said.

The hotel complex in Nairobi's Westlands neighborhood is less than two kilometres from Westgate Mall and lies on a relatively quiet, tree-lined road in what is considered one of the most secure areas of the city. "My colleagues were running everywhere", said another man, breathing heavily, who did not give an Associated Press video journalist his name.

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"We are under attack", one person in an office inside the complex told Reuters, before hanging up. An unexploded grenade lay in the lobby, he said.

The border between Kenya and Somalia is so porous that the members of al-Shabaab can cross it easily by paying bribes of as little as US$20 to corrupt Kenyan and Somali border guards, the United Nations report said.

Images from security cameras showed four young men in black combat fatigues and loaded belts, armed with AK47s entering the compound.

Gunfire went on for several minutes after the first report.

Al-Hijra, the Somalia terror group's designated branch in Kenya that was added to Al-Shabaab's designation by the State Department last summer, repeated the claim of responsibility through their media outlet. A bomb disposal unit was called in, and police blew up a auto they said had explosives inside.

Police said they detonated a auto that had explosives inside.

"We are behind the attack in Nairobi".

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"The people that we were with were very much in control and in many ways, while it's a stressful situation, you had reassurance that these people were focused on making sure you get out alive".

A series of apparently coordinated attacks rocked a hotel complex in Kenya's capital on Tuesday.

A Somali diplomat who likewise spoke on condition of anonymity said Somali officials were in the hotel for meetings at the time of the attack and several were feared to still be inside. "We will pursue them wherever they will be, until they are held to account". "We hid until we were rescued".

Kenyan police officers take cover during an ongoing gunfire and explosions.

"We miss him so much and it's extremely sad that such a positive young man was taken away from us by the terrorists", she said.

In its statement, the Shabaab noted the attack came exactly three years after its fighters overran a Kenyan military base in Somalia.

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