April 22, 2019

11 Arrests Reported in Deadly Nairobi Assault

11 Arrests Reported in Deadly Nairobi Assault


NAIROBI, Kenya — The police intensified their search on Thursday for the plotters of the deadly assault on a Nairobi hotel-shopping complex, as Kenyan news services said at least 11 people had been arrested, including a suspected financier.

The assault, which began Tuesday afternoon and lasted more than 18 hours, killed at least 21 people, including a police officer. Fifteen of the victims were Kenyan, one was American, one was British and the others were of undetermined African nationality, the authorities said.

Five assailants also were killed and 700 people were evacuated from the complex in one of the Kenyan capital’s most secure areas.

The Shabab, an affiliate of Al Qaeda based in Somalia that has been attacking targets in Kenya for years, claimed responsibility while the assault was still underway.

In a follow-up statement on Wednesday, the group said the attack was carried out at the behest of Al Qaeda’s leadership in response to the Trump administration’s decision to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem last year.

The statement, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, denounced what it called “the witless remarks of U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds as the capital of Israel.” Al Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem.

The initial arrests were reported late Wednesday by Joseph Boinnet, the chief of the national police, who told reporters in Nairobi that “two key suspects believed to have facilitated the attack” were in custody.

KTN News and other services said at least nine more people were seized on Thursday, including a woman who had lived with one of the suspects. The police did not officially confirm those arrests.

Many Kenyans have lauded the police for how quickly they responded to the assault on the complex, known as 14 Riverside, which houses the Thai-owned DusitD2 Hotel, offices, restaurants and shops.

The police action was regarded as far more coordinated and professional than the bungled response to the Shabab assault six years ago on the nearby Westgate Shopping Mall, which left at least 67 people dead.

“There were fewer implausible narratives from senior security officials than happened in 2013,” The Standard newspaper said in an editorial. It also commended President Uhuru Kenyatta for having reassured the nation that “all was well” after the siege had ended.

Still, the editorial was not completely complimentary: “How did the assailants manage to move their weaponry through the numerous roadblocks to their hide-out and to the scene of crime undetected?”

A swirl of unfounded rumors after the attack also included suggestions that the United States Embassy in Nairobi had been warned about it. The rumors led the American ambassador, Robert F. Godec, to issue a statement on Thursday to refute them.

“Contrary to some false reports on social media, the United States had no advance notice of the attack, nor did we ever advise American citizens or our staff to avoid the DusitD2 prior to the incident,” Mr. Godec said in the statement posted on the embassy’s website. “We deplore the spread of false information in the wake of this tragedy.”



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