Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security Fred Okengo Matiang'i (centre) arrives on the scene of the terrorist attack at the hotel complex in Nairobi's Westlands. - AFP
NAIROBI, AFP: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday that Islamists who stormed an upmarket hotel complex, killing 14 people, had been “eliminated” after an almost 20-hour siege in which hundreds of civilians were rescued.
At least one suicide bomber blew himself up and gunmen engaged security forces in numerous shootouts during the assault on the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant, and office buildings.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali group Al-Shabaab, which has repeatedly targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the jihadist group.
The sight of armed Islamists and terrified civilians fleeing reminded Kenyans of a 2013 Shabaab attack on the Westgate mall left 67 dead in a siege that stretched out over four days and led to sharp criticism of the security response.
In a televised address, Kenyatta said some 700 civilians had been evacuated throughout the attack at DusitD2, with the swift and effective work from security forces drawing widespread praise in local media.
“I can confirm that... the security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated,” Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation. “As of this moment, we have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost to the... terrorists, with others injured.”
Police sources and a mortuary official had previously reported 15 dead.
It was not immediately clear how many attackers there were in total.
CCTV footage broadcast on local media showed four black-clad, heavily armed men entering the complex on Tuesday afternoon. At least one of them blew himself up at the start of the attack.