MS Risk Blog

Security Advisory: Kenya (15 January 2019) ***UPDATE***

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Gunmen Storm Kenyan Hotel

UPDATE:  16 January 2019– Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta disclosed on Wednesday that Kenyan security forces have “eliminated” the militants who stormed an upscale hotel compound, killing at least 14 people, adding that more than 700 civilians have been safely evacuated from the dusitD2 complex.  Officials are reporting that eleven Kenyans, an American, and a Briton are amongst the causalities.  While at 23:00 on Tuesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced that all the buildings in the complex had been secured by security forces and that “the situation is under control and the country is safe,” just an hour later gunfire and sporadic explosions were reported in the area.  There was more heavy gunfire heard at about 7:00.

On Tuesday 15 January, at about 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT), gunmen stormed a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in a lethal attack that is being claimed by Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab.  Gunfire and blasts were heard at the compound, which is located in the Westlands district of the capital, and a plume of smoke rose above the compound with several vehicles on fire in the car park.  Eyewitnesses have reported that the complex was stormed by four armed men.  An explosion targeted three vehicles at the entrance of the compound and a Suicide Vest Improvised Explosive Device (SVIED) denoted in the foyer of the Dusit D2 Hotel. Officials are reporting that at least one person was killed and a further eight injured, though unconfirmed reports indicate that at least 30 causalities are being reported by local hospitals.   Police are warning that the “terror attack” may still be ongoing as assailants remain in the upscale 14 Riverside Drive complex.  Security operations are ongoing.

The complex is home to the local offices of international companies including BASF, Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Pernod Ricard, Dow Chemical, and SAP, as well as the dusitD2 hotel, which is part of the Thai hotel group Dusit Thani. The Australian Embassy is located across the road from the compound.

Kenya has often been targeted by al-Shabaab, with the militant group claiming responsibility for the 2015 attack at Garissa University, which resulted in the deaths of almost 150 people, and the 2013 attack on a shopping centre in Nairobi.  The 80-hour siege at the upscale Westgate shopping centre killed 67 people.  Al-Shabaab has also carried out numerous cross border attacks.

Anyone currently in the Westlands district of Nairobi is advised, if you are able to do so safely, to consider leaving the area.  If you are caught up in the incident, you are advised to turn any mobile phones or other devices to silent and do not put your location on social media.  Remain vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities if they are present.