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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Five Years After Westgate, Al-Shabab Strikes Again in Nairobi

Politics

Abdullahi Osman

Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:03 GMT

The siege at a Kenyan upmarket hotel by al-Shabab gunmen came to end on Wednesday morning, January 16th, and all attackers involved were killed, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced.

The president, in a televised address to the country 19 hours after al-Shabab gunmen stormed the DusitD2 Hotel in the Riverside area of the capital’s Westlands district, said the attack killed 14 people, and hundreds of other were evacuated by the country’s security forces.

“The security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists have been eliminated,” Kenyatta said.

The dead include an American and a British citizen, according to the State Department and the British High Commissioner in Nairobi.

“The operational priority of the security services was to safeguard civilians. They acted swiftly to contain the attackers and methodically evacuated those who were at risk,” Kenyatta said.

It is still unclear how many attackers were involved but CCTV footage showed four heavily-armed men inside the hotel compound.

On Monday, December 15th, Somalia’s al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attack within an hour of it beginning. The group, which is known to exaggerate casualty figures of its targets, said 74 people including Westerners were killed.

“Mujahideen forces are conducting an operation in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi,” an al-Shabab statement published in Somali Memo, its media affiliate said.

The attack began with a car bomb explosion at the hotel’s main entrance after which the attackers stormed the complex, which houses a hotel, banks, restaurants, bars and offices.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose country bears the brunt of al-Shabab’s assaults, condemned the attack.

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack in Nairobi. Our thoughts and prayers are with the government and the people of Kenya at this tragic time. Kenya is an important ally and a brotherly neighbour. Such heinous acts only serve to embolden our joint quests to vanquish terror,” Farmajo said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Kenya’s international partners, including the US, Britain and the EU also condemned the Monday afternoon attack.

The Riverside attack comes five years after a similar assault on Westgate, a shopping mall in the same district that killed at least 67 people. Westlands is an affluent district, popular with shopping malls, restaurants, and banks. Some foreign embassies including Western ones are located here.

The attack also marks exactly three years after al-Shabab fighters attacked a Kenyan military camp in El-Adde town in southwest Somalia, where more than 100 soldiers were killed.

Al-Shabab’s deadliest attack in Kenya took place in April 2015 when gunmen stormed Garissa University in the northeast of the country, killing at least 150.

The group is linked to al-Qaeda and is fighting in Somalia to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu. It also wants to establish an Islamic state and apply its own version of strict Islamic law.

In 2011, it was driven out of Mogadishu by Somali forces backed by African Union troops, but it is still capable of carrying out high-level attacks within and outside of Somalia.

Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabab, which it accused of kidnapping foreign tourists in its territory. Later, Kenya became part of the African Union mission to defeat al-Shabab and help the Somali government stabilize the Horn of Africa country.

Al-Shabab retaliated by carrying out attacks inside Kenya and warned Nairobi to withdraw its troops from Somalia.


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