African leaders condemn Nairobi hotel attack

A policeman runs past burning cars at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi, Kenya January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Leaders from across Africa have condemned in the strongest terms the terror attack in Nairobi, calling it a cowardly act that has heightened the continent’s resolve to fight against terrorist elements.

Chairperson for the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, issued a statement on Tuesday night, expressing his deepest condolences and commended the swift response by Kenyan security forces.

He ‘expressed the solidarity of the AU with the government and people of Kenya’.

Four armed men seen on CCTV footage invaded a hotel and office complex in Nairobi’s Riverside suburb on Tuesday afternoon, blowing up three cars in the parking lot before shooting indiscriminately.

Reports suggest one of the gunmen blew himself up at restaurant in the complex, which hosts the Dusit D2 Hotel and a number of offices.

Shortly after the first explosion was heard at about 3:30pm, response teams descended on the complex in an attempt to secure the area and rescue people held hostage or who had barricaded themselves in their places of work to keep safe.

Rescue operations went on way into the night and explosions could still be heard on Wednesday morning, despite Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary saying that the situation was under control and the country was secure.

“The nation is safe and all Kenyans and our visitors are safe and should feel free to go about their normal business,” Matiang’i told a media briefing on Tuesday night. “Let us all remember that terrorism will never defeat us and as a country we remain strong and determined.”

Militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mahamat reiterated that the AU would continue to pursue efforts to stabilize the situation in Somalia and the fight against al-Shabaab, through its Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa meanwhile, sent a message of support to the Kenyan people, confirming that no South African citizen was reported injured in the attack.

“The South African High Commission in Nairobi is monitoring the situation and interacting with authorities,” he said.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo also expressed his condolences.

An official death toll has not yet been provided by the Kenyan government, but President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to issue a statement on Wednesday morning.