Kenya’s deadly hotel attack: A timeline of how it occurred
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — It began with cars exploding and several armed young men, wrapped in ammunition belts, sauntering onto the scene. It was declared over nearly 20 hours later with at least 14 people killed, 700 people evacuated and the Islamic extremist attackers “eliminated.” Overnight, scores of frightened people hid in washrooms, offices and elsewhere as gunfire popped and security forces hunted the gunmen. Here’s a rough timeline of what occurred in the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in Kenya’s capital.
Tuesday, 3 p.m.
Reports begin to spread of an explosion and gunfire at the Riverside Drive complex, which includes a hotel, shops, restaurants and offices in Nairobi’s upscale Westlands neighborhood. Several cars are ablaze in a parking lot as security forces stream in and people run or are carried from the scene. Police quickly call it a terror attack.
Plainclothes police with guns drawn hurry from shop to shop to look for trapped civilians and an unknown number of attackers. A black plume of smoke rises from the scene. Sporadic gunfire continues.
The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab claims responsibility and says its members are still fighting inside. Survivors rushing from the scene, some in tears, report seeing bodies.
Kenya’s national police chief says special forces are trying to flush out the attackers and look forward to “bringing the situation to normalcy in the shortest time possible.” Kenyans watch the police response closely after officers took hours to respond to a deadly attack on the nearby Westgate Mall in 2013.
A Kenyan police officer among the first responders says “there was no time to count the dead,” with bodies seen in restaurants downstairs and in offices upstairs. Gunfire continues.
Kenya’s national police chief gives the first official details of the attack, saying it began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank while a suicide bomber blew up in the hotel lobby, severely wounding bystanders. He calls the operation “still ongoing.”
Kenya’s interior minister says all buildings have been secured and security forces are in the final stages of “mopping up.” There is still no official toll of dead or wounded.
Kenya’s Citizen TV airs what it calls surveillance footage that shows four attackers, young men in ammunition bandoliers, splitting up as they calmly walk across an outdoor area of the complex.
Wednesday, 1 a.m.
Some family members say loved ones are still trapped inside even after Kenyan authorities called all buildings secure. One woman says her brother is hiding with over 10 other people.
A Kenyan police officer says 15 bodies have been taken to the morgue. Anguished family and friends gather there.
Kenya’s interior ministry says “no further threat to the public exists” and that civilians who had been “secured” in one building have been safely evacuated.
Another explosion and gunfire are heard, shortly after scores of survivors who had still been holed up in part of the complex are freed. They reunite with relieved friends and family and recount a long night of cowering in hiding places while listening to nearby gunfire.
Bursts of gunfire are still heard from the complex.
Kenya president says 14 “innocent people” are dead and declares the attack over, saying all the terrorists have been eliminated.”
A new blast is heard at the complex, 24 hours the attack began. Witnesses say security forces are conducting a painstaking sweep for any explosives the attackers left behind in a final attempt at carnage.