A British man and an American man are among at least 15 people killed after four gunmen sprayed guests with bullets and a suicide bomber blew himself up in a terror attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya.
The four attackers, one wearing a green belt laden with grenades, were seen on CCTV blasting their way into the hotel and office complex in Nairobi after denoting car bombs outside a nearby bank.
The suicide bomber then blew himself up in the lobby before the other three began hurling grenades and shooting people as they fled or hid under tables.
Charles Njenga, a worker at the complex, said after fleeing: ‘What I have seen is terrible. I have seen a human as I ran out and there is what looks like minced meat all over.’
Special forces units were sent in to flush the gunmen out, and officials said the scene was secure at around 11pm local time (8pm GMT). But there were reports of further gunfire at 2am then again two hours later, when around 50 casualties trapped inside the building were still being evacuated. The fate of the three terrorists is unclear.
The Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed that it was behind the attack at the 14 Riverside Drive complex – which includes a large hotel known as DusitD2, banks and offices. They claimed to have killed 47 people but gave no evidence.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘The situation is ongoing. We are in contact with the Kenyan authorities who are coordinating a response and stand ready to assist as required.’
Motionless bodies of victims around a table at a hotel and office complex in Nairobi yesterday after a terror attack in which at least 15 people were killed
A CCTV grab showing one of four suspected al Shabaab attackers who opened fire in the hotel as a suicide bomber detonated in the lobby
Gunmen blasted their way into the venue – sending workers fleeing for their lives as others cowered under their desks. Pictured: Bullet holes in the windows of a restaurant inside the venue
The Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed that it was behind the attack at the complex – which includes a large hotel known as DusitD2, banks and offices. Pictured: People run for cover
CCTV showing two of the alleged attackers walking past a barrier towards the hotel wearing dark paramilitary-style gear. Al Shabaab has already claimed responsibility for the carnage
A security guard helps two women to flee from the Nairobi hotel (left) while others escape through a window before climbing down a ladder
Civilians flee as gunfire erupts at the hotel complex, while members of the security forces (right) fire back at the attackers
A woman is carried out of the hotel and office complex on a stretcher in the Kenyan capital after al Shabaab Islamists set off explosions and hurled grenades
Survivors duck down to avoid being shot and cling to the person in front as they are led out of the complex in single file
Security forces armed with assault rifles stand guard and help evacuate people at the scene in Nairobi
Survivors run for their lives in the street as a gunfight ensued between al Shabaab terrorists and Kenyan security guards
Women flee with a look of panic on their faces as gunshots can be heard whizzing by in the hotels behind them
An armed soldier takes cover next to a bullet hole-riddled glass during ongoing gunfire and explosions in Nairobi
The attack began at around 3pm local time, when the four gunmen threw bombs at cars parked outside the hotel before walking into the lobby, where the suicide bomber blew himself up.
Authorities sent special forces into the hotel to flush out the gunmen believed holed up inside. About eight hours after the siege began, Interior Minister Fred Matian’i said that all of the buildings affected by the attack had been secured and that security forces were mopping up.
‘I would like to reiterate that the situation is under control and the country is safe,’ he said.
However, more gunfire was heard about an hour later, Kenyan broadcaster NTV reported. Reports at around 2.00am local time (11pm GMT) also said people remained trapped.
A woman, who gave her name only as Nelly, said: ‘I have spoken to my brother just now and we are exchanging text messages.
‘He is in there and he has told me they are hiding with over 10 other people. Why is the government saying they have rescued them?’
Two hours later, there was more gunfire as rescuers tried to evacuate around 50 survivors.
Those saved included a pregnant woman, a first responder said, and the daughter of a former lawmaker. Ex-MP Boni Khalwale tweeted that she had been saved more than 12 hours after Somali Islamists began their attack.
Al Shabaab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said: ‘We are behind the attack in Nairobi. The operation is going on. We shall give details later.’
Two Kenyans in their early 30s working with governance consultants Adam Smith International were among the dead, a family member said. Both had young families, she said.
Bloody terror attacks that have hit Kenya since the 1980s
WESTGATE MALL, SEPTEMBER 2013
Al Shabaab fighters burst into a luxury shopping mall in Nairobi, hurling grenades and starting a days-long siege that left 67 people dead. The assault horrified the world and exposed weaknesses in Kenya’s security forces after it took them hours to respond.
GARISSA UNIVERSITY, APRIL 2015
The al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on Garissa University that killed 147 people, mostly students. The attack occurred near the Somalia border that had seen multiple assaults on buses and schools. The extremists separated Christians from Muslims and killed the Christians.
BOMBINGS OF US EMBASSIES, AUGUST 1998
Al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, and the embassy in neighboring Tanzania, killing more than 250 people. The explosions were the first major al-Qaeda attack on U.S. targets. Nearly 5,000 people were injured.
NORFOLK HOTEL, DECEMBER 1980
The hotel was bombed on New Year’s Eve and killed at least 15. Suspicion fell on Palestinian militant groups that targeted Kenya for supporting Israel.
A Spanish national was among the injured, a Spanish diplomat said.
The US Embassy had offered assistance, a State Department official said, adding all American diplomats were safe.
A woman shot in the leg was carried out of the complex, and several men emerged covered in blood. Some office workers climbed out of windows. Many said they had to leave colleagues behind, still huddled under their desks.
‘There’s a grenade in the bathroom,’ one officer yelled as police rushed out from one building.
Geoffrey Otieno, who works at a beauty salon in the complex, said he heard a loud bang from something thrown inside the building, then saw shattered glass.
‘We hid until we were rescued,’ he said.
John Maingi said there had been ‘a flash of lights and a loud bang’ at the Secret Garden restaurant where he works.
‘When I peeped outside I saw a human leg which has been cut off. We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us,’ he said.
Survivors reported hearing a shattering blast and saw people mowed down by gunmen as they sat in 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.’
Meanwhile, Simon Crump, an Australian who works for an international firm in the complex, barricaded himself inside a spare room with two other people. They waited there for about 2-1/2 hours for help to arrive, their minds racing.
‘You’re hiding under a desk trying to figure out what’s going on, and you just don’t know, as there’s so much misinformation,’ he said.
When soldiers finally reached the group, they instructed them to put their phones away and put their hands in the air as they made their way to safety.
A Kenyan police officer who was among the first on the scene said ‘there was no time to count the dead’ but that there were many bodies. A mortuary worker later said 15 had been killed, including a Briton and an American. The other victims are believed to be Kenyan, although two did not have any documents.
Around 30 people are also being treated in hospital, according to local media reports.
A witness who gave his name only as Ken said he saw five bodies at the hotel 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.
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 climbed out of a window by a ladder. One man got up from the floor where he appeared to be trying to hide under a piece of wood paneling, then showed his ID.
As officers searched luxury fashion displays, wounded people were carried away on stretchers.
Several vehicles are burning while people are being rushed and carried from the scene in the Kenyan capital
An injured man is evacuated from the scene of an explosion. Thick black smoke can be seen billowing from the complex behind them
Shell-shocked survivors are rushed to safety from the complex, barely-clothed, by security forces
Paramedics come to the aid of an injured woman who has collapsed on the road after fleeing the scene of the terror attack
A shell-shocked woman is evacuated form the Dusit Hotel by hotel staff and security guards who try to calm her down
Burnt-out cars in a parking lot within the complex. Police say one of the explosions was caused by a car bomb
An unexploded grenade lies in a hallway in a hotel complex under attack by al Shabaab extremists
Police say a car bomb was detonated by terrorists in the car park, before gunmen opened fire – sending workers fleeing for their lives and cowering under desks
An injured man is taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital after the attack on the luxury hotel and business complex
A member of the security forces is seen reflected in a window as he inspects bullet-holes in the glass
A bloodied victim is brought to the Kenyatta National Hospital with gun wounds following the terrorist attack
Cars burn at the entrance of one of the hotels in the compound during ongoing gunfire and explosions
Kenyan RedCross workers provide first aid service to an injured woman who has blood dripping down her head and in her hands
Like the attack at the luxury Westgate Mall, 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.
Al-Shabaab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011. The al-Qaida-linked group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya.
In 2015, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on Kenya’s Garissa University that killed 147 people, mostly students. Tuesday’s violence also came three years to the day after al-Shabaab extremists attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia, killing scores of people.
The latest carnage demonstrated al-Shabaab’s continued ability to carry out spectacular acts of bloodshed despite a dramatic increase in US airstrikes against it under President Donald Trump.
Tourism – an important source of revenue in Kenya, where safaris are a major attraction – has suffered because of the violence.
An injured member of staff is held up by a paramedic as he makes his way out of the complex
An armed officer tells survivors to stay back and duck down as he tries to lead them to safety
Kenyan special forces take position at the scene following several explosions and heavy gunfire
A woman is in tears as she’s rescued from the Dusit Hotel on Riverside Drive in the Kenyan capital
A woman roars in pain as two paramedics lead her away from the attack and to safety
A female member of staff cries after making it out of the complex. Her male colleagues and a guard console her
Several vehicles are burning while people are being rushed and carried from the scene
Nairobi police commander Philip Ndolo had earlier said they had cordoned off the area around Riverside Drive, where the dusitD2 hotel is located, due to a suspected robbery. But police are not ruling out a militant attack
Kenyan special forces armed with AK-47s crouch in bushes outside of the hotel complex as they fight back against terrorists
Cars were seen burning at the scene amid reports of explosions and heavy gunfire
Survivors make their way arm-in-arm from the hotel complex as fires rage behind them and engulf vehicles parked on the street
Members of security forces take up position at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound
Members of the Kenyan Army take up positions as they prepare to engage with the gunman inside the building
People are evacuated from the complex – some down a ladder – after gunfire and explosions were heard
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 authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Despite the repeated attacks, the Kenya-Somalia border remains porous, with al-Shabaab extremists able to easily bribe their way across, according to a U.N. panel.
The hotel complex in Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood is about a miles 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.’
Who are al Shabaab? Extremist group linked to al-Qaeda who killed 67 in 2013 Nairobi shopping centre attack
The al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, whose name means ‘The Youth,’ seeks to impose its strict version of sharia law in East Africa.
The group is particularly active in Somalia, where it has an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 militants in its ranks who frequently unleash attacks targeting security and government officials, as well as hotels and restaurants in the capital.
The group has also behind deadly attacks in Kenya and Uganda, which both contribute troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, after Al-Shabaab gunmen raided the shopping centre killing more than sixty people in 2013
Today’s attack immediately reminded many Kenyans of the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi in 2013, when al-Shabaab extremists burst into the luxury shopping centre, hurling grenades and starting a days-long siege that left 67 people dead.
British jihadi Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the White Widow, was rumoured to have been involved in planning that attack.
The complex under attack today is less than two miles from Westgate Mall and is in what is considered one of the most secure areas of the city.
The attack came three years to the day after al-Shabaab extremists attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia, killing scores of people.
The al Shabaab objects to the presence of Kenyan troops in the turbulent Horn of Africa nation.
British jihadi Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the White Widow, was rumoured to have been involved in planning the Westgate Mall attack