Militants Bomb Kenya Hotel, Killing 12; Shabab Claim Responsibility
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
OCT. 25, 2016
Photo: The aftermath of an attack on Tuesday in Mandera, Kenya. According to officials, a powerful bomb was detonated at a hotel when most guests were sleeping. Credit Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — Islamist militants struck a hotel in northern Kenya on Tuesday morning, killing a dozen people and stoking outrage from Kenyans who accused their government of not doing enough to protect them from a relentless menace.
The Shabab, a Somali militant group, gleefully took responsibility, saying online that they had bombed the hotel to kill infidels and that all their fighters “came back to their positions safely after the operation.”
The attack happened at 3:30 a.m. at a hotel in Mandera, a town that sits at the absolute northeastern tip of Kenya. This month, Islamist militants killed six people there. Less than two years ago, Islamist militants slaughtered dozens of miners in the same area, separating the Christians from the Muslims and shooting the Christians in the head.
According to Kenyan officials, the militants detonated a powerful bomb at the hotel on Tuesday when most guests were sleeping. Part of the hotel collapsed, and at least 12 people died in the avalanche of concrete and rebar. Several others were seriously wounded.
“The population of Mandera needs to wake up from slumber and realize attacks are aimed at economic isolation,” the governor of Mandera, Ali Roba, said, according to Citizen TV in Kenya.
Kenya has been locked in a war against the Shabab for five years, part of a wider effort to dislodge the militant group from Somalia. The United States has also jumped in, with American Special Forces quietly expanding a covert war inside Somalia against the Shabab, with mixed results.
In recent years, the Shabab have lost several important cities, but at the same time, fighters continued to take over smaller towns and overrun heavily fortified African Union bases. Inside Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, Shabab assassins routinely kill government officials. On Monday, a top intelligence official was assassinated, with the killers melting away into the night.
On Tuesday morning, as news began to spread across Kenya about the attack in Mandera, people began to criticize the government response.
One Kenyan woman, Ory Okolloh Mwangi, wrote on Twitter, “Mandera was under attack from 2:30 am but security forces only going in now?”
Another Kenyan, Muene, wrote on Twitter, “Kenyans being ambushed in Mandera but the President will just keep telling us that he has done his part and security starts with us.”
The Shabab seem to be on a tear. A few hours after the attack in Kenya, fighters rammed a car laden with explosives into the gates of an African Union base in central Somalia housing soldiers from Djibouti. The Shabab claimed to have killed more than 15 soldiers; the African Union did not disclose casualties.
An African Union spokesman said two Djiboutian soldiers and five others were wounded in the attack. Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, called Djibouti’s leader on Tuesday to express his condolences.
Uhuru calls off Angola trip after Mandera terror attack
Oct. 25, 2016, 6:00 pm
By NANCY AGUTU
Photo: Residents look at the destruction following an attack by al Shabaab militants at Bishaare lodging in Mandera town, October 25. /REUTERS
President Uhuru Kenyatta has called off his official visit to Angola following the terror attack that left people 12 dead in Mandera on Tuesday.
The President asked DP William Ruto to represent him at the meeting slated for Wednesday at the country’s capital Luanda.
The meeting’s agenda is to rally African countries on a regional oversight mechanism for peace and security cooperation.
"This is in solidarity with the families who have lost their loved ones, and those injured, whom he wishes a speedy recovery," State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said.
In the statement on Tuesday, Esipisu said on behalf of Uhuru that: "We recognise that to win this war, we must remain united."
"One way in which we can show that unity and defend our republic is by cooperating closely with our security agencies."
The spokesman conveyed the President’s condolences to victims’ families and said Uhuru will stand with them.
Esipisu said Kenyans will not permit division along religious lines and that security agencies will do everything in the pursuit of justice.
"Every Kenyan of goodwill, Christian and Muslim alike, knows that it is wrong to take innocent life," he said.
More on this: Mandera’s ’sufficient’ security too afraid to patrol, Roba says after al Shabaab raid
Suspected al Shabaab terrorists attacked Bishaare Hotel in Mandera town using grenades and IEDs at around 3:30am on Tuesday.
Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery said in a separate address that security agencies were pursuing those behind the attack.
The CS said in Kwale that they will work round the clock to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.
"We are putting appropriate measures to ensure citizens across the country are secure and safeguarded,he said.
Nkaissery refuted claims by residents in the area that police did not respond to warnings about the attack.
"Our officers were on patrol; that is why they managed to repulse the suspects and protected the lives of more people who could have been injured," the CS said.