Thu | Mar 21, 2019

Extremists attack hotel in Kenya

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 2:27 PM
Ap photo

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Extremists launched a deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya’s capital Tuesday, sending people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the complex. A witness said he saw five bodies at the hotel entrance alone.

Al-Shabab — the Somalia-based Islamic extremist group that carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi that left 67 people dead — 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 black smoke.

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 of a gate in the basement.

“I couldn’t believe I was alive. The blast was so loud and shook the whole complex.”

Authorities sent special forces into the hotel to flush out the gunmen believed holed up inside.

Well after nightfall, more than five hours after the attack began, Boinnet said the counter-operation was still going on.

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.

Boinnet did not disclose the number of dead.

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