President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed that 14 people died in Tuesday’s attack at the Dusit Hotel in Nairobi, with hundreds of others injured and evacuated.
“We are grieving as a country this morning; my heart, and that of every Kenyan, goes out to the innocent men and women violated by senseless violence,” Kenyatta said in an address to the nation.
The incident began about 3 p.m. local time with two bomb blasts, according to Joseph Boinnet, the inspector general for Kenya National Police. The first explosion was in the parking lot of an I&M Bank branch, while the second was a suicide bombing attack in the lobby of the hotel “where a number of guests suffered severe injuries,” he said.
Heavy gunfire followed in the area around the upscale hotel and office complex, which was immediately cordoned off by police. Boinnet said the armed assailants were holed up in the hotel on the city’s north side, but security forces had taken control of the situation. CCTV footage obtained by Kenyan media outlet The Star showed four attackers.
The Somalia-based al-Shabaab organization claimed responsibility for the incident. It comes at the anniversary of the group’s 2016 attack on Kenyan military personnel at El Adde in Somalia, and follows the news that suspects in the 2013 Westgate Mall attack will be tried for that attack.
Witnesses described wounded bodies and terrifying scenes, while others took to social media to alert people they were trapped or share they had been rescued. The Kenyan government asked that people refrain from sharing images from the scene so as not to help the armed assailants or spread what Boinnet called fear and despondency.
A number of Kenyans were angered by images of the dead shared by international media outlets including the New York Times, which later apologized for publishing the photos.
Image: Joseph Boinnet, Kenya National Police