Africa Nairobi attack survivors reunite with families

Nairobi attack survivors reunite with families

Kenyan armed forces and civilian people take cover after an attack on a hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. 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 police officer said he saw bodies, “but there was no time to count the dead.”

Dozens of people are reuniting with friends and family after being trapped for more than 12 hours in a hotel complex under attack in Kenya’s capital.

Survivor Lucy Wanjiru says she had been trying to flee when she saw a woman on the ground floor get shot. Wanjiru ended up in a washroom with several other scared people.

Her friend Cynthia Kibe stayed in contact with her by phone overnight.

Kibe says, “I think I panicked when she told me that the gunshots are next to her. I had to keep telling her ‘Just wait, help is on the way, they are almost there, they are almost there.’ And then at one point she was like, ‘Please tell me I am getting out of here alive’ and then it was just like my breaking point.”

Another explosion and gunfire have been heard at the hotel complex in Kenya’s capital even after authorities announced that all was secure following Tuesday’s attack.

The gunfire came not long after scores of survivors who had been holed up in the Nairobi complex overnight were freed.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry has said authorities are “mopping up” the scene but have not given details on the fate of the attackers. It is not known if any are still at large.

The al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry says “no further threat to the public exists” in the Nairobi hotel attack, and that civilians who had been “secured” in one building have been safely evacuated.

A tweet early Wednesday morning says all buildings and the surrounding area are secure.

Kenyan authorities have not yet announced the fate of the attackers. At least four were seen on surveillance video storming the hotel on Tuesday afternoon.

The ministry simply says the “mopping-up process” continues.

At least 15 people have died, including one American.

The U.S. State Department says an American citizen was among those killed Tuesday when extremists stormed a luxury hotel in the capital of Kenya.

Africa’s Islamic militant group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, which involved explosions and people being gunned down at cafe tables. It’s the same group that carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate Mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead.

A department official confirmed Tuesday that a U.S. citizen was killed, but declined to identify the individual. The official said the State Department is offering condolences to the victim’s family and friends. Out of respect for relatives of the deceased, the department declined further comment.

The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

A Kenyan police officer says 15 bodies have been taken to the morgue after an attack on a luxury hotel complex in Nairobi claimed by the al-Shabab extremist group. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia, has asserted that 47 people were killed but it gave no details.

Nearly 12 hours have passed since the attack began and Kenyan authorities have not yet announced whether the attackers are dead, detained or on the run. Surveillance footage showed at least four attackers.

Families have said some people are still hiding inside the complex.

Some family members say their loved ones are still trapped inside a Nairobi hotel complex even after Kenyan authorities said all buildings were secure following a deadly attack.

“I have also spoken to my brother just now and we are exchanging text messages,” says a woman who gives her name only as Nelly. “He is in there and he has told me they are hiding with over 10 other people.” She says he works in a building next to the hotel.

“Why is the government saying they have rescued them?” she asks.

Gunfire has been heard since Kenya’s interior minister announced the scene had been secured.

Calvin Kerich says he has been in touch with his cousin, another employee who is still trapped at the scene.

Somalia’s government is expressing its “strong condemnation” of the deadly attack on an upscale hotel complex in Kenya’s capital. The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Somalia’s foreign ministry in a statement says the attack by at least four gunmen “once again reveals the hideous face of terrorism.” The statement expresses its solidarity with those affected.

Al-Shabab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011. The al-Qaida-linked group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya.

Kenya’s interior minister says all of the buildings affected by an extremist attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi have been secured and that security forces are in the final stages of mopping up the scene.

Fred Matiang’i says that “I would like to reiterate that the situation is under control and the country is safe.”

He did not give a toll of dead or wounded. Witnesses have reported up to five bodies in the attack claimed by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab.

A State Department spokesperson says the United States condemns the “senseless act of violence” at an upscale hotel in Kenya’s capital.

The spokesperson says the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is closely monitoring the attack and working with Kenyan authorities to determine if any U.S. citizens are affected.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is condemning “the horrible terrorist act.”

Authorities have not announced a death toll, but witnesses have reported up to five bodies in the attack claimed by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab.

Survivors of the deadly attack on a Nairobi hotel complex describe a shattering explosion and the bodies of people shot to death while sitting at a cafe.

Enoch Kibet, who works as a cleaner there, says: “We were changing our shifts and that is when I heard a loud blast and people were screaming.” She crawled out of a gate in the basement.

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

A waitress who only gave her first name, Lily, trembled as she described the attackers shooting people at the Secret Garden cafe and people lying on tables bleeding. She says that “these are terrorists and they need to be stopped because there are many people in this complex.”

Some women climb out of windows. One man rises from the floor where he appeared to be trying to hide under a piece of wood paneling, then shows his ID badge.

“We do ourselves a favor, we clear what we can see,” one officer says as they approach what appears to be a shattered entrance.

The footage shows officers searching luxury fashion displays and other areas while wounded people are hurried away on stretchers.

Kenya’s national police chief says the coordinated attack on a Nairobi hotel began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank while a suicide bomber blew up in the hotel lobby.

Joseph Boinnet says the lobby blast severely injured a number of hotel guests.

He says the operation against the attackers is “still ongoing” and various offices have been secured.

Authorities still have not released a death toll while witnesses have reported seeing up to five bodies.

A Somali diplomat says Somali officials were in a Nairobi hotel for meetings at the time it was attacked on Tuesday and several are feared to still be inside. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

The al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility and said the attack started with a suicide bombing, with gunmen then storming the hotel.

A Kenyan intelligence official says the country had been on high alert since November with information about potential attacks on high-profile targets in Nairobi, but the extremists confused security officials by changing target locations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

A witness to the attack on an upscale hotel complex in Kenya’s capital says he saw five bodies.

The man who only gave his name as Ken said the bodies were at the hotel entrance. He says other people were shouting for help and “when we rushed back to try rescue them, gunshots started coming from upstairs and we had to duck because they were targeting us and we could see two guys shooting.”

Separately, rescue workers say two of the people they rushed to a local hospital were dead on arrival. The rescue workers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Authorities have not yet released any figures on dead or wounded.

Some Kenyan hospitals are appealing for blood donations as the number of people wounded in an attack on an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi remains unknown.

Night has fallen and it is not immediately clear whether attackers are still active in the complex and how many people might be trapped or hiding inside.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. It occurred a short distance from the Westgate Mall, which al-Shabab attacked in 2013, killing 67 people.

A Kenyan police officer who was among the first on the scene of the attack on an upscale hotel complex says “there was no time to count the dead but it is true that there are people who are dead.”

The officer says some bodies were in restaurants downstairs and that colleagues saw others in offices upstairs.

The officer says blood and glass are all over and that gunfire continues. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Kenya’s national police chief says they are aware some attackers could still be inside an upscale Nairobi complex and that special forces are trying to flush them out.

Joseph Boinnet did not confirm any deaths and did not give a number of people injured in the attack in the Westlands neighborhood.

The police chief says they suspect this to be a “terror attack” and he urges people to remain calm. He says that police are looking forward to “bringing the situation to normalcy in the shortest time possible.”

Kenyans are watching the police response closely after officers took hours to respond to a deadly attack on the nearly Westgate Mall in 2013.

The attack on an upscale hotel complex in Kenya’s capital comes a day after a magistrate’s court ruled that three men must stand trial on charges they were involved in a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013.

The magistrate said Monday he was satisfied with prosecutors’ evidence linking the three suspects to the days-long siege of Westgate Mall in which 67 people were killed. A fourth suspect was freed for lack of evidence.

The Somalia-based Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack, and it has claimed responsibility for the one on Tuesday.

Police say they have detonated a car they said had explosives inside. The blast sent people at the scene of an attack on an upscale complex in Nairobi’s capital ducking and screaming.

Officers have moved away from other vehicles they suspect of having explosives.

Other officers have been going shop to shop in the complex in the Westlands neighborhood. It is a short walk from Westgate Mall, which was the scene of a deadly extremist attack in 2013.

The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shaba has claimed responsibility for this attack.

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