Death toll in Kenya attack climbs to 21, plus 5 attackers
The death toll from an extremist attack on a luxury hotel and shopping complex in Nairobi climbed to 21, plus the five militants killed, police said Wednesday in the aftermath of the brazen overnight siege by the Somali militant group Shabab. Two people accused of facilitating the attack were arrested.
The number of those killed at the DusitD2 complex rose with the discovery of six more bodies at the scene and the death of a wounded police officer, said Joseph Boinnet, inspector-general of Kenyan police. Twenty-eight people were hurt and taken to a hospital, he said.
In a televised address to the nation earlier in the day, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the all-night operation by security forces to retake the complex was over and that all of the extremists had been killed.
“We will seek out every person that was involved in the funding, planning and execution of this heinous act,” he said.
In an attack that demonstrated Shabab’s continued ability to strike Kenya’s capital despite setbacks on the battlefield, extremists stormed the place with guns and explosives. Security camera video released to local media showed a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a grassy area in the complex, the flash visible along with smoke billowing from the spot where he had been standing.
Of the civilian victims, 16 were Kenyan, one was British, one was American and three were of African descent but their nationalities were not yet identified, police said.
The Al Qaeda-allied Shabab claimed responsibility. The extremist group also carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate mall that killed 67 people and an assault on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 that claimed 147 lives, mostly students.
Although U.S. airstrikes and African Union forces in Somalia have degraded the group’s ability to operate, it is still capable of carrying out spectacular acts of violence in retaliation for the Kenyan military’s campaign against it.
The bloodshed in Kenya’s capital appeared designed to inflict maximum damage to the country’s image of stability and its tourism industry, an important source of revenue.
The government said late Tuesday that buildings were secure. However, gunfire continued into Wednesday morning, and dozens of trapped people were rescued overnight. Several loud booms were heard Wednesday as teams sought to clear the complex of booby traps and other explosives.
The Kenyan Red Cross said about 50 people were unaccounted for. But many of those were believed not to have been in the complex during the attack.
The American killed in the attack was identified as Jason Spindler, co-founder and managing director of San Francisco-based I-Dev International. Spindler’s father, Joseph, said his son worked with international companies to form business partnerships in Kenya that would boost local economies.
The Houston-raised Spindler had a brush with tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001: He was employed by a financial firm at the World Trade Center at the time of the terrorist attack but was running late that morning and was emerging from the subway when the first tower fell, according to his father. He became covered in dust and debris as he tried to help others, the elder Spindler said.
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