Kenya said its forces yesterday ended a terror attack on a luxury hotel complex that claimed 14 lives, after a 20-hour operation that rescued hundreds of people and left all five assailants dead.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group Al-Shabaab, which has targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the jihadist group.
“I can confirm that… the security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation early yesterday. As of this moment, we have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost to the… terrorists, with others injured.”
Al Shabaab said yesterday that they had launched a deadly attack because of United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The two page statement said: “The Mujahideen (holy warriors) carried out this operation … (as) a response to the witless remarks of U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.”
The Kenyan Red Cross said “at least 30” wounded had been admitted to hospital. At least one suicide bomber blew himself up and others traded gunfire with security forces as the assault on DusitD2, a complex which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and offices, unfolded on Tuesday.
“There were five terrorists and all of them are no more,” Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet told AFP. “It is a clearing exercise now going on there.”
For many Kenyans, news of the attack revived traumatic memories of a 2013 Shabaab raid on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that left 67 dead, a siege played out over four days that led to sharp criticism of the authorities’ response.
But this time, local media heaped praise on the security forces for their intervention, which Kenyatta said entailed the evacuation of some 700 civilians.