Six people were killed in an assault on a luxury hotel in Nairobi today, with Al-Shabaab claiming responsibility and the Kenyan government pleading with citizens to not spread images of the attack or “terrifying messages” on social media.
According to Kenya’s Daily Nation, five people were killed on the terrace at the hotel complex’s Secret Garden restaurant by a suicide bomber. A sixth victim succumbed to her injuries later at the hospital.
Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said the coordinated assault, launched at 3 p.m., also began “with an explosion that targeted three vehicles in the parking lot” of a bank in the complex. The blast was followed by gunshots “coming from multiple directions,” an employee of the complex said.
Police weren’t clear on what became of the gunmen; a private security guard told AFP he had seen four gunmen. The interior minister’s statement on the attack only said that all buildings were secure and “the situation is under control and the country is safe.”
Al-Qaeda’s Global Islamic Media Front disseminated the news, saying Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack “in one of the fanciest areas of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and where offices of international representatives are situated.”
“There are reports of human and material losses,” GIMF added.
Al-Hijra, the Somalia terror group’s designated branch in Kenya that was added to Al-Shabaab’s designation by the State Department last summer, repeated the claim of responsibility through their media outlet.
The New York Times’ photo desk Twitter account was briefly suspended after Kenyans protested the outlet publishing images of bodies slumped over tables on the restaurant patio.
The government sounded off, telling citizens that they were aiding Al-Shabaab by tweeting about the attack.
— State House Kenya (@StateHouseKenya) January 15, 2019
In September 2013, four gunmen attacked the Westgate mall in Nairobi, killing 62 civilians and five Kenyan soldiers followed by a lengthy siege.