The Somali-based militant group al-Shabaab, who took responsibility for the deadly Nairobi hotel siege, said Wednesday the attack was a response to US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Following the attack that killed 21 people in a siege lasting over 19 hours, the group said in a statement picked up by SITE that its fighters stormed the DusitD2 complex on instructions by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“It is a response to the witless remarks of the US president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.”
The communique from al-Shabaab declared that its operation at the business complex “came in accordance with the directive by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to target ‘western and Zionist interests’ and in response to Donald Trump announcing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
On Wednesday morning, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta took to the air to announce that security forces had eliminated all four Islamist militants that attacked a Nairobi hotel complex the previous day.
“Fourteen innocent lives have been lost,” the president said, giving an updated death toll an hour after gunfire came to a stop after the attack stretched into its second day.
Later on Wednesday, the upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi rose to 21, Kenya’s police chief said.
Chilling CCTV footage broadcast on local media showed four black-clad, heavily armed men calmly entering the luxury complex on Tuesday afternoon. A suicide bomb blast signalled the start of the attack.
“We wish to inform that, as of this evening… six other bodies were found at the scene and one police officer succumbed very suddenly to his injuries,” Joseph Boinnet told reporters.
He said the dead included 16 Kenyans, one Briton, one American and three people of “African descent who are yet to be identified.”
Security forces worked throughout the night to secure the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and office buildings after an attack claimed by Al-Shabaab Islamists on Tuesday afternoon.
At least one suicide bomber blew himself up at the hotel while gunmen sprayed fire before engaging security forces and holing themselves up at the premises as civilians fled or barricaded themselves in their offices awaiting rescue.
Some of the casualties were said “to includes foreigners,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Among the dead was an American citizen, a State Department official said.