It all started with a loud bang. In a car. In a parking lot. Followed by four shooters shooting at anything that moved. Security guards, civilians. A long-planned attack on the Dusit D2 hotel and business centre in Nairobi.
When the terrorists entered the area on 15.January 2019, one went into the restaurant by the pool and asked for his colleagues, which was confirmed by a frightened eyewitness. A few minutes later, the terrorist detonated his explosive vest. His body parts split into tiny pieces. Now everyone ran for his life. Some visitors and employees made it out, but most people were trapped in the building complex.
At this point, the remaining three terrorists advanced with a complex shooting while people hid in their offices and others in toilets. In panic, up to ten people sought shelter in a single toilet cabin. As the terrorists went door to door and shot everyone they met, fear was great.
It took about thirty minutes for the police to arrive. According to my information, the first communication about the attack was started for the first time on Twitter by a hostage in a toilet inside the complex. The security forces guarding the foreign embassies and facilities around the complex were some of the first to arrive. Followed by an elite unit of security forces trained in recent years to deal with such incidents. In addition, members of the registered arms association joined in to assist the hostage rescue.
Meanwhile, the media had also arrived, reporting live from the Dusit area. A few minutes before 6:00 p.m. an intense exchange of gunfire was heard, followed by hostages led out by the police and registered gunmen in turn. A helicopter provided air support and surveillance of the area.
Things became quiet again for a while. When the Inspector General arrived and gave status updates to the police, he asked the population not to publish photos or contributions in the social media about the rescue mission. It should be prevented that safety-relevant details are revealed. The next briefing should take place at 22:00 local time. The Kenyans of course shared all data, pictures and videos they got on their timeline.
For hours, shots were heard from inside the complex as more and more hostages were escorted out. The Inspector General with ministerial support came around 22:30 to bring the public up to date. They confirmed the number of terrorists in the building and that they had conquered control of six out of seven floors of the Dusit complex. At the same time, video footage of the terrorists showing their faces spread.
Shortly after the images were taken, Kenyans went on a social media search to share the terrorists’ photos. Some users were able to identify them by name, where they lived and how they socialized. That was very late at night and some hostages were still locked up in the complex.
At 9:00 the following morning on the second day, the President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, gave a State of the Union speech condemning the cowardly attack of the terrorists associated with Al-Shabaab and confirming that all terrorists had been neutralized and killed overnight. The number of hostages killed in the attack was also confirmed. The images of terrorists killed in the hail of bullets were the most shared images on social networks. Compassion was sought in vain.
While the president’s speech took place, the criminal investigation department penetrated where the terrorists lived. Several arrests were made by evaluating their communication protocols and the data from mobile masts and surveillance cameras monitored during and before the attack. People with whom the terrorists frequently communicated, exchanging money through M-Pesa, bank transfers and even counters.
All those involved in a transactions of ca. one Million Euro were arrested, including a bank teller who had served the terrorist, a M-Pesa agent and a Canadian citizen of Somalian origin who had been in constant contact with the terrorists all along, as well as the person who registered his car and gave him license plates.
The leading terrorist’s wife had already fled to Somalia at that time. The anti-terror police are pursuing her with the help of the Interpol police.
All cases came and go to court. The police are still investigating. Arrests of those involved continued.
After the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in 2013 and the subsequent increase in security measures, kenyan was hoped that such attacks would not be repeated so easily. Compared to 2013, however, the security authorities were by far better equipped and prepared.
It was a long and terrible sad day for Kenya and its inhabitants.