Nairobi hotel attack: Eleven arrested as missing are accounted for

Bomb disposal experts detonate explosive left over from assault claimed by al-Shabaab

Eyewitness footage captures gunfire from an attack at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has said that four militants have been killed by security forces. Video: Sheila Munyiva

 

Kenyan bomb disposal experts have found and safely detonated an explosive left over from the extremist attack on a Nairobi luxury hotel and office complex in which 21 people, plus five attackers, were killed.

Police also said nine more people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack by Somali militants, bringing the total number of suspects in detention to 11.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday evening that a 20-hour siege had ended with security forces killing all five Somali militants who had stormed the complex, forcing hundreds of people into terrifying escapes.

Nineteen people still missing two days after the attack are now accounted for, the Kenyan Red Cross said on Thursday.

Late on Wednesday, the Red Cross said it had yet to account for 19 of 94 people it had been tracing following the attack. “All 94 cases have been closed positively as of [now],” it said in a statement at 12.30pm (9.30am Irish time) on Thursday, giving no further detail.

Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate fighting to impose strict Islamist law, said it carried out the assault on the upscale dusitD2 compound over US president Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Kenya, the east African hub for multinational companies and the United Nations, became a frequent target for al-Shabaab after Kenya sent troops into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 to try to create a buffer zone along its border.

In a two-page statement claiming responsibility for the attack, al-Shabaab did not spell out why it had chosen to hit Kenya over Mr Trump’s December 2017 decision on Jerusalem.

It said the attack was “a response to the witless remarks of US president, Donald Trump, and his declaration”, and that it was targeting “Western and Zionist interests worldwide and in support of our Muslim families in Palestine”.

Asked about the claim, a White House national security council spokesman said in a statement: “This senseless act is a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat radical Islamist terrorism.”

Bloody bodies

The bloody bodies of the five attackers were broadcast across social media as Mr Kenyatta announced the end of the siege, which echoed a 2013 al-Shabaab assault that killed 67 people in the Westgate shopping centre in the same district.

The Kenyan government said its quick reaction to Tuesday’s assault on the dusitD2 complex reflected improvements in its ability to respond to such brazen assaults on civilian targets. It was “much better handled” in comparison to the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall, said information minister Joseph Mucheru.

Privately-owned Standard newspaper said one of those arrested was a woman who had lived with one of the five militants in Nairobi since October. The woman posted an advert on Facebook on Monday saying that the two were selling their household goods and leaving Nairobi, the Standard reported.

Sixteen Kenyans, an American survivor of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on the US, and a British development worker were among the dead in the hotel complex following the attack, national police chief Joseph Boinnet said.

Four of the 100 dusitD2 hotel employees who were on duty at the time of the attack were killed, said general manager Michael Metaxas. Another three were injured, he said. – Reuters/AP