Kenya attack: Nine arrests over bloody DusitD2 hotel siege

Written by on January 17, 2019

Nine people have been arrested in Kenya following an attack on a luxury hotel compound in the capital Nairobi that killed at least 21 people.

All five militants who stormed the DusitD2 hotel and business complex on Tuesday have been killed, officials say, and a major hunt is under way to find those who helped organise it.

Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab says it was behind the attack.

Kenya’s Red Cross says everyone who was missing has now been accounted for.

What do we know about the attackers?

Kenyan media reports that the wife of one of the suspected attackers has been arrested in Kiambu county, just north of Nairobi.

Police said they had identified Ali Salim Gichunge, also known as Farouk, through the car used in the attack.

Police stand guard outside the home of one of the suspects in Kiambu county, on 16 January 2019
Image captionPolice stand guard outside the home of one of the suspected attackers, in Kiambu County

Neighbours told The Standard newspaper that he and his wife had moved in to their home in October. The couple were secretive, they said, and had put the contents of their home up for sale before the attack, saying they were “moving out of Nairobi this week”.

Still of two of the attackers caught on CCTV
Image captionThe attackers, two of which are shown here, were caught on CCTV as they entered the complex

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday that five jihadis carried out the attack, and all were “eliminated” by security forces after a 19-hour siege.

Al-Shabab issued a statement calling the attack “a response” to US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A White House National Security Council spokesman responded by saying: “This senseless act is a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat radical Islamist terrorism.”

Who are the victims?

Details are starting to come through of those who lost their lives. A policeman was revealed to be among the dead as the death toll rose on Wednesday.

Kenyan James Oduor, commonly known as Cobra, had tweeted about the attack as it unfolded. The LG Electronics worker, who died on the eve of his birthday, was well-liked and known for his love of football.

Twitter post by @kipmurkomen: Sadly we lost James Odu Cobra in the #RiversideAttack. He was a lovely chap. Always happy &funny. I enjoyed playing football against him a couple of times. I enjoyed the banter& the way he liked teasing  Odu!

Two Kenyan friends, Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed, were having lunch together in the grounds of the hotel when the suicide bomber struck, Reuters news agency reports. Friends described the pair as inseparable.

US citizen Jason Spindler is among the dead. His brother, Jonathan, announced on Twitter that Jason had survived the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001.

In an interview with US broadcaster NBC, Sarah Spindler said her son had been trying to “make a positive change in the third world in emerging markets”.

Twitter post by @cmschroed: Jason Spindler was one of those rare men who was loved by pretty much anyone be touched in Kenya and around the world. Today he was killed in the terrible al shabab attack in Nairobi. He chose a life of hope and inclusion.  I am grateful to have known and learned from him.

British citizen Luke Potter, who held dual South African nationality, was also killed, and another Briton was wounded, the UK Foreign Office said.

Mourners have been holding funerals to bury the dead.

Burial ceremony for Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed in Nairobi on 16 January 2019
Image captionA burial ceremony has been held for friends Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed

How did the attack unfold?

The attack began at about 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Tuesday. The gunmen threw bombs at vehicles in the car park before entering the lobby, where one blew himself up, police say.

Security camera footage showed at least four heavily armed men walking in and opening fire. There are reports they had been seen visiting the compound in recent days.

Twitter post by @Nairobi_News: CCTV footage reveals faces of militants behind #RiversideAttack. #KenyaAttack #WeShallOvercome

At 23:00, a government official said that all the buildings in the complex had been secured by security forces. But gunfire and sporadic explosions were reported just an hour later, and there was more heavy gunfire at about 07:00 on Wednesday.

Security forces then combed their way through the building where frightened workers had barricaded themselves inside, hiding in offices, toilets and even under tables.

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Nairobi’s DusitD2 hotel

A map shows the complex in Nairobi where attackers opened fire on Tuesday

The five-star DusitD2 hotel has 101 rooms. Located in the Westlands suburb, minutes from the capital’s business district, it has its own spa and several restaurants.

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In all, some 700 people were evacuated from the complex, officials said. Twenty-eight people were admitted to hospital with injuries.

Kenyan woman caught up in the attack (L) led away by relative - 16 January
Image captionMany civilians were trapped in the complex for several hours

Some of those killed had been dining in the Secret Garden restaurant. Other bodies were found on the third floor of the 101 room hotel.

Who are al-Shabab?

They oppose the Somali government, but have carried out attacks throughout East Africa.

In September 2013, al-Shabab gunmen entered the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and targeted shoppers.

During an 80-hour siege at the upscale centre, 67 people were killed.

Two years later, the group carried out its deadliest ever assault in Kenya, shooting dead almost 150 people at Garissa University.

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