Somalia-based al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for this afternoon’s terrorist attack at an upscale hotel and office complex in Kenya’s capital.
Two explosions and gunfire were heard at the hotel and office complex at 14 Riverside Drive in the Kenyan capital, with the group’s military operations spokesman telling a number of news organisations that they were “currently conducting an operation in Nairobi.”
The complex includes a large hotel known as DusitD2, banks and offices. Several vehicles were ablaze with people being escorted and carried from the scene while gunfire was heard inside.
Kenyan police confirmed there had been an attack and that the area had been cordoned off with motorists advised to use alternative routes to facilitate smooth operations of the Police.
Security at the complex has been among the tightest in Nairobi, with vehicles checked for weapons and explosives at a boom gate around 100 metres from its buildings.
As well as the hotel and offices, the complex is home to a number of small shops, travel agents and bank branches. Alcohol giant Pernod Ricard SA and prominent think tank Adam Smith International also have offices there.
It is frequented by international business visitors and senior politicians who go there to dine or hold meetings.
An early report claimed the attack started with a suicide bomber blowing himself up in the Secret Garden Café on the premises. Others said two vehicles forced their way into the complex and made security guards open the gate by shooting at them.
It is then believed that they advanced and hurled explosives into vehicles in the parking lot before storming the building.
Another unsubstantiated claim made on social media was the militants were targeting a group of Americans attending a seminar in one of the blocks.
Some reports on social media claimed the terrorists were going from room to room killing anyone they found alive.
Response teams including the Recce Squad, Flying Squad, Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and the bomb squad led by Director DCI George Kinoti were coordinating to end the attack.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt Tweeted that he was “Shocked by dreadful scenes in Nairobi – thoughts and prayers are with those affected. Brits in the area should remain vigilant and follow advice of local security authorities.”
Both the UK High Commission and Irish Embassy posted alerts about the incident.
An update from the British government said: “There are reports of an incident in the Riverside area of Nairobi; if you’re able to do so safely, consider leaving the area; if you’re caught up in the incident, turn any mobile phones or other devices to silent and do not put your location on social media; remain vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities if they are present.”
As a security precaution, the Village Market also closed.
Today’s attack comes a day after a magistrate’s court ruled that three men must stand trial on charges they were involved in the Westgate shopping mall attack in 2013.
The magistrate said on 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.
For anyone looking for relatives following the attack, the Red Cross advise you to call the hotline on 0715820219.