A yet to be ascertained number of people are feared killed during a terrorist attack on a luxury hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
Al-Shabab, a vicious terrorist group based in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Somalia shares a border with Kenya.
The Kenyan police evacuated many people from the scene of the attack, some with various degrees of bullet wounds.
The BBC quoted Kenya’s head of police, Joseph Boinnet, as saying that the attack began at about 12:00 GMT as the gunmen blew up vehicles that were parked in the hotel parking lot before gaining entrance into the lobby where one blew himself up.
Witnesses also report hearing several gunshots and people running all over the place in panic.
“I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives,” a woman working in the neighbourhood told Reuters news agency.
The police chief, Boinnet, would later tell journalists that most of the main building of the hotel had been secured, but police were still working to flush out any surviving gunmen.
It’s not clear yet how many people that were killed in the attack, but one photojournalist reported seeing five bodies slumped over tables on a restaurant terrace in the complex.
“The restaurant that seems to have taken the brunt of the explosions is a place I know well. It was full of lovely staff who would always greet you with a smile. As I sit watching the survivors escape, I wonder how many of them didn’t make it,” BBC’s Nairobi correspondent, Joe Inwood, reported.
DusitD2 hotel, the target of Tuesday’s terror attack, is a five-star hotel located in the Westlands suburb, minutes from the capital’s business district. It has 101 rooms, a spa, and several restaurants.
So far, at least one person has been confirmed dead and four others injured, but security operations are still ongoing in the area.
Kenya has seen a number of terror attacks in recent years – most notably in areas close to the Somali border and in the country’s capital.
Tomi Oladipo, BBC’s security correspondent in Nairobi reports that recent terror attacks in the country have been near the border with Somalia, where Al-Shabab is based. The last time an attack was carried out in the heart of the country’s capital was that of the Westgate Shopping Mall on September 21, 2013.
“In Kenya, every major building has some form of security check – metal detectors, car checks and even bomb detectors – at the entrance. Yet, even today these measures proved to be no barrier to the assailants. There is only so much building owners can do,” Oladipo wrote.