KEN AlShabab AttackNAIROBI, Kenya – Grief-stricken Kenyans became angry as they visited the Chiromo Mortuary to discover whether their loved one has been killed in a terror attack that ended Wednesday.

“When will these terror attacks stop?” asked Margret Mwende, a small shop owner who was looking for her niece at the mortuary. “We have lost many of our relatives as a result of these attacks. We demand government’s action not just words and promises. How did they allow terrorists to cross our borders?”

Launched on Tuesday, the attack on the Dusit compound of luxury shops and hotels in the capital claimed at least 14 lives, according to the government. Five men armed with guns and explosives attacked the compound at night, holding around 176 hostages until security services intervened. An American and Briton were among those killed.

A Somali militant group linked to Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, reported the SITE Intelligence Group.
The incident was reminiscent of Al Shabab’s attack two miles away on the Westgate shopping center in 2013. The militants killed 67 people during that attack and siege, which lasted more than three days.

Al Shababb also attacked Garissa University in Kenya, killing 148 people, in 2015.

Experts praised Kenya’s security agencies for acquiring lessons from the Westgate Mall attack that allowed for a good response that ended the Dusit attack with a minimal life lost.

“There was quick response and coordinated efforts by security agencies to arrest the situation,” said Francis Maina, a former colonel in the Kenyan army who is now a security analyst.

But Maina faulted the government's strategy to confront the terror threat since Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia in 2011 in a bid to stabilize its war-torn neighbor. Leaders have also failed to comprehensively implement existing security laws that might help counter-terrorism officials, he added.

“The government needs a more unified homeland security structure to ensure efficiency when it comes to sharing of intelligence among all security agencies,” said Maina. “This will allow security agencies to response immediately in case of attacks.”

Michael Ouma, 28, a taxi driver who had left the hotel minutes before the attack wondered how terrorists had managed to enter the hotel without notice. The hotel is only around two miles away from the Westgate Mall, he added.

"I really thank God for saving me,” said Ouma. “It wasn't my day to die. I heard that the client I dropped was shot dead as he made his way to the hotel. It was shocking and traumatizing. Our government needs to do something."

In his address from the State House on Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to crack down on terror. He assured all Kenyans and visitors of their safety in the country, saying multiple security efforts are underway to defeat terrorist groups.

“We’ll seek out all those involved in planning, functioning and execution of the act,” said Kenyatta. “But my heart goes out to innocent men and women violated by the senseless violence.”

Families at the mortuary needed the consolation.

One unidentified woman broke down in tears at the mortuary after she was informed by relevant authority that her loved one was dead.

“Why! Why! Why! Why!” she shouted as family brought her into the building. “You didn’t deserve to die like this, and it hurts me. God help me!”

Photo: Screenshot of Kenyan soldiers monitoring the area where the attack on Dusit luxury compound happened.
Credit: Courtesy of Kenya CitizenTV YouTube channel. (01/15/2019)

Story/photo publish date: 01/16/2019

A version of this story was published in the Washington Times.
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