Al-Shabaab hits Nairobi hotel, police battle to retake complex
(CNN) Kenyan security forces are battling to retake control of an upscale hotel and office complex in Nairobi after gunmen stormed the compound on Tuesday afternoon, in what officials say is a “suspected terror attack.”
Heavy gunfire and an explosion sent people running for their lives from the complex in an affluent neighborhood in the Kenyan capital. Footage from the scene showed armed officers escorting office workers and several injured people to safety as the sound of shots rang out. Cars in the compound could be seen aflame as a helicopter flew overhead.
The assailants are still holed up inside the DusitD2 hotel inside the complex, inspector general of Kenya’s national police service Joseph Boinnet told a news conference late Tuesday afternoon.
“We are aware that armed criminals are holding up in the hotel and specialist forces are now currently flushing them out,” Boinnet said. “However, we regret to inform that there have been injuries in the attack and we are in the process of confirming the numbers and types of injuries incurred.”
Anti-terror units, other law enforcement agencies and ambulances rushed to the scene on Riverside Drive in Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood.
Boinnet added that all hotels in the city were under close watch.
Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group.
As we were leaving, there were gunshots all over the place,” Evans Ng’ong’a, who was inside the complex, told CNN. “Attackers jumped over the fence and started shooting after the explosion.”
Ng’ong’a shared videos and photos on Twitter showing an ongoing police operation.
“We have sent in a number of teams from the anti-terror unit and CID to give support to what is going,” Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino said. “We have to assume that this is the highest possible type incident, so we are prepared.”
The attack has drawn immediate comparisons to the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi in 2013, when Al-Shabaab extremists launched a siege on a luxury shopping centre.
Today marks the three-year anniversary of an Al-Shabaab attack on the El Adde military base which left over 140 Kenyan soldiers dead.