More than 700 civilians were evacuated from the dusitD2 complex after a 20-hour siege. Some hid under desks as bullets shattered plate glass doors. Others jumped from windows, or ran out under fire.
“The security operation at dusit complex is over, and all the terrorists eliminated,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation, looking drained and grave. He praised his citizens for helping each other. “Kenyans showed the world the best part of us: brave, patriotic, loving and unbowed.”
Kenyatta did not specify how many assailants there were, but CCTV clips showed at least five dressed in black.
One is seen waiting outside the restaurant before blowing himself up in a cloud of debris. Four others then shoot assault rifles crossing the car park.
The attack was claimed by Somali group al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting an insurgency to topple the weak UN-backed government and impose strict Islamic law.
Air strikes against the group have stepped up under US President Donald Trump, but Tuesday’s attack showed it retains the ability to strike outside Somalia’s borders.
Neighbouring Kenya, a hub for expatriates, became a frequent target for al-Shabaab after sending troops into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the long, porous border.
An American who survived the 9/11 attacks, two best friends from Kenya who worked to help Somalia, and a British development professional were among those killed.
Kenyatta said: “Throughout the breadth of Kenya and in our immediate neighbourhood multiple security efforts are under way to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat any terrorist operative or group.”
Yesterday afternoon, 50 people believed to have been in the hotel complex when it was attacked remained unaccounted for.
The family of a missing 35-year-old man collapsed on hearing a body had arrived at Nairobi’s Chiromo morgue with his identification papers.
“He is gone, he is gone,” the father repeated into his phone.
On Kenyan social media, the hashtag #KenyaUnbowed was trending as citizens expressed defiance in the wake of the attack. Reuters dpa