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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Nairobi attack: Al Shabab militants 'eliminated' after deadly 20-hour siege

Eleven Kenyans and several foreigners reported among casualties after Al Shabab claims assault in Westlands

Latest: Death toll from Nairobi attack rises to 21 and 50 unaccounted for

Five militants who stormed an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi were "eliminated" after an almost 20 hour siege that left at least 14 victims dead, Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said on Wednesday.

"There were five terrorists and all of them are no more," he told AFP.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kenyans to “go back to work without fear” in a televised address on Wednesday, insisting that the East African nation remained safe for citizens and visitors. "I can now confirm that... the security operation at Dusit is over and all terrorists have been eliminated," Mr Kenyatta said.

In the northern Nairobi neighbourhood of Westlands, the DusitD2 is an upmarket hotel and office park that includes bars, restaurants, business headquarters and banks. The complex was attacked on Tuesday afternoon, with gunfire continuing into Wednesday.

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The dead militants included one suicide bomber, two killed on Tuesday night and another two killed by security forces on Wednesday, a police source said.

In addition, at least 14 civilians were killed in the attack, Mr Kenyatta said, which was claimed by Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliate. More than 700 civilians were rescued from the building.

Kenyan authorities have not released a number for how many were wounded during the attack but one hospital reported it had received seven patients, most of whom suffered from gunshot wounds. Two of those died and the rest needed emergency surgery, said Dr Vishal Patel, medical director at MP Shah Hospital, a private facility a short distance from the DusitD2 complex.

Kenyan police said earlier on Wednesday that there was still an “active security operation” around the complex. Another explosion was heard at the scene on Wednesday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the attack began and after authorities announced that all was secure.

Authorities urged members of the public to stay away from the scene. "The area around 14 Riverside Drive is a Crime Scene ... under an active security operation," police said in a message on Twitter, referring to the complex's address.

Those killed in the attack included 11 Kenyans and several foreign nationals. Many were dining at the Secret Garden restaurant at the complex when the attack began.

San Francisco-based company I-DEV International confirmed that American Jason Spindler was among the dead. Spindler was the co-founder and managing director of the global strategy and investment consultancy. Nine others in its Nairobi office were safely evacuated.

The London-based company Adam Smith International said two of its employees were shot to death during the attack. Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed were killed on the terrace of a restaurant in the complex where the company has offices. Some 50 more staff were safely evacuated.

Scores of people were still being rescued at daybreak on Wednesday after a night trapped in the complex. At least two groups of people remained in the hotel and business complex just before 7 am.

The Al Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the bomb and shooting attack, according to the SITE Intel Group which monitors extremist groups. Surveillance footage recovered from the scene showed four gunmen dressed in black storming the hotel on Tuesday afternoon.

Grief-stricken families flocked to a morgue in the Kenyan capital to identify the bodies of the dead. Families arriving at the Chiromo morgue were told they could not view the bodies until a forensic investigation had been performed however, provoking grief and anger.

The family of one Kenyan, 35, collapsed in the courtyard upon hearing a body had arrived with his identification papers.

"He is gone, he is gone," the father repeated into his phone as his mother wrapped a shawl around herself and wept, Reuters reported.

Another family arrived, demanding to see whether their relative was there but were told only police had access. As they argued, an elderly couple arrived in silence, bringing a freshly pressed suit to dress their son.

Outside the morgue, two Red Cross ambulances waited, their drivers asleep inside. They would go to the complex to retrieve casualties once it was safe, morgue staff said.

Kenyan police say said they detained a man and two women following a raid on a house where one of the Nairobi attackers was said to have lived. The suspects were being questioned "to establish how they knew the man who lived here and the people who had been visiting," a police official said.

Police carried out the raid after neighbours reported they had identified a vehicle that had been parked outside the hotel complex during the attack.

Updated: January 17, 2019 11:46 AM

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