According to local intelligence sources, Kenya police and military personnel remain engaged in an active security operation at the DusitD2 hotel. The attack, allegedly involving six assailants, targeted the DusitD2 Hotel housed inside the Riverside complex. Local social media reports suggest that civilians remain inside the hotel. Nearby buildings, including a site belonging to the University of Nairobi, were evacuated as police and anti-terrorist personnel continue to engage with the attackers. There have been no official reports on the numbers of causalities; however, survivors have stated that people were killed in the attack.
The attack began at around 15.00 when a series of explosion occurred within the complex and gunfire was heard near the main hotel building. Al-Shabaab quickly claimed responsibility through their own media channels, although this is yet to be confirmed, calling the location one of the most opulent areas of the Kenyan capital and mentioning the numerous international representatives that stay in the area. Gunfire has continued intermittently since as security forces attempt to flush the attackers out of the hotel. A bomb squad also arrived at the scene after reports that a vehicle, used by the assailants, was fitted with an explosive device.
At around 18:00 local time, several reports on social media indicated that gunfire was still occurring in the area. A police officer statement also indicated that the gunmen were held up in the hotel with police attempting to rescue civilians. A member of Kenya’s General Service Unit (GSU) Recce Squad Company has reportedly been hit by a grenade during the firefight; indicating that the militants are well armed and intend to defend their position.
Nairobi Police Commander Philip Ndolo initially stated that the attack was a suspected robbery and cordoned off the area around Riverside Drive. The DusitD2 Hotel possesses 24-hour armed security and is widely considered a secure location for business travellers to stay when visiting Nairobi. It is highly likely that the assailants specifically targeted the 5-star hotel with a view to inflict high-profile and foreign casualties.
This afternoon’s attack also comes on the three-year anniversary of the deadly Al-Shabaab attack on a Kenya military base in Somalia’s El-Adde. Between 141-150 Kenyan soldiers were killed in the attack despite managing to inflict more than 330 fatalities on the Al-Shabaab attackers. The attack also comes a day after the trial for a suspect in the 2013 Westgate Mall attack commenced in Nairobi. Al-Shabaab attacks on Kenya are not uncommon with attacks, especially in border areas, occurring regularly. The most notable attacks being the aforementioned Westgate attack and the Garissa University massacre.