Hunt on for attack planners | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, January 18, 2019

NAIROBI TERROR ATTACK

Hunt on for attack planners

Kenyan security forces yesterday resumed their search of the hotel complex attacked by Islamists with sniffer dogs and bomb experts, as information emerged about one of the attackers who killed 21 people.

A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were confident there were no more people trapped inside the hotel or surrounding office buildings after the 20-hour assault, during which some 700 civilians were rescued.

Police warned the public there may be loud controlled explosions as they continued their sweep of the hotel.

Five gunmen with the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabaab attacked the DusitD2 hotel and office complex on Tuesday afternoon.

Chilling CCTV footage showed one of the attackers lingering in front of the terrace of the Secret Garden restaurant before blowing himself up.

Four other attackers were shot dead by police during the operation to secure the hotel.

Al-Shabaab said it was acting to avenge the decision by US President Donald Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the SITE monitoring group.

The Red Cross said that 19 people reported missing to them, had since been traced.

Police say one of the attackers was Ali Salim Gichunge, who was also known as Farouk.

He was traced through his car, which was used at the attack, to his home in the Ruaka suburb where he lived with a woman in her twenties named Violet Kemunto Omwoyo.

As the attack unfolded, scores of terrified civilians barricaded themselves inside toilets and offices for hours.

Some were killed at the Secret Garden restaurant, while another six bodies were found on the third floor of the hotel, where one of the gunbattles took place.

Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper hailed the "sweet victory over terrorism" as praise poured in for the swift and professional response from security services.

This stood in stark contrast to the scorn heaped on disorganised police and army officers who staged a chaotic intervention when Shabaab attacked the Westgate mall in 2013, leaving 67 dead.

"There was a sense of triumph despite adversity," read the newspaper's editorial.

"Security teams were well-coordinated under the General Service Unit; there was a centralised chain of command ... clearly lessons have been learned."

Al-Shabaab has repeatedly targeted Kenya over the presence of its troops in Somalia.

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