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Nairobi hotel: ‘How we survived DusitD2 siege’

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EPA

About 700 people survived an attack by gunmen on a compound of offices and a hotel in Kenya’s capital. The siege, which began at 15:00 local time on Tuesday, lasted 19 hours.

Here’s how some of them escaped from the al-Shabab attackers:

‘Crammed in a toilet’

Two journalists working for national broadcaster NTV found themselves caught in the siege for more than 12 hours.

“We are crammed inside the toilet with a number of guys,” messaged reporter Silas Apollo to a WhatsApp group with other journalists while hiding. “I’m very scared.”

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Reuters

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It took 19 hours to secure the complex

“They have been combing the building and shooting aimlessly. It’s too scary to imagine,” he posted on WhatsApp.

They told Kenya’s private Daily Nation newspaper that they, and at least 14 others trapped with them, had to change positions moving from the toilets – sometimes crawling, lying on the floor or standing – to the main hall.

They were eventually rescued from their office block at 03:15 local time on Wednesday.

‘I sent a message on Twitter’

At around 19:00 local time, as gunfire was heard in the vicinity, Ronald Ng’eno tweeted that he was stuck in a bathroom:

This was about five hours after the siege had begun. He then tweeted that his phone battery was about to die.

Many replied, including two who gave information of the mobile phone number of the incident commander.

His tweets had already attracted a lot of attention on Twitter as he had tweeted saying goodbye to his family and his belief that he would go to heaven should he die:

He walked out of the complex early on Wednesday morning after being trapped for more than 10 hours, reports Nairobi News.

‘Everyone started running’

“It was just after serving food to the customers, then all of a sudden a bang outside the hotel,” a waiter at the DusitD2 hotel, who asked to be called Charles, told the BBC OS radio programme on the World Service

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Reuters

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The security services helped evacuate all the buildings

He, another colleague and a customer from the hotel escaped together.

“The terrorists started shooting at the people. After that we started running. Everyone started running.

“Some were running outside, some were hiding in the toilets. I managed to escape through the back door.”

He added that Kenyan security services were already at the scene when he escaped “and they helped us to manage to walk out”.

‘I also survived the Westgate mall attack’

Tracy Wanjiru, who was caught up in the DusitD2 siege, also survived the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall six years ago, reports Nairobi News site.

In September 2013, al-Shabab gunmen entered the Nairobi mall and fired on shoppers, leading to a siege over four days in which 67 people were killed.

“I was working there when the attackers stormed in, it was not easy just like today. All I can say is that I thank God,” she told Nairobi News.

She heard gunshots near where she worked as a manager of a hair salon within the DusitD2 hotel complex. She tried to look outside and then heard a loud explosion.

“I jumped back to the salon, told my colleagues to be keen because we were under attack. They dismissed me at first but when they heard wails and screams, everyone went into hiding.”

She then called for help on Facebook:

Later, at about 20:00 local time, five hours after the attack began, she went back to Facebook to tell her friends and family that she had survived:

‘Hid under my desk’

Hiram Macharia, a marketing executive at LG Electronics, told the Reuters news agency that after he heard the first explosion he tried to escape.

“I grabbed a fire extinguisher and we started going downstairs. Then we saw two of the attackers firing at the elevators and we turned back. We hid under desks in our office,” he told Reuters.

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AFP

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There have been emotional scenes as people were rescued

“They were firing twice at each of the elevator doors and the two staircase doors on each floor as they walked up the building. One of them fired at our office doors, entered slightly and then moved on.”

Mr Macharia hid in his office, but one colleague ran to the roof and was shot dead there, he added.

‘We were texted before rescue’

Mamadou Dia was on a business trip from Paris for STP Consultants when he was caught up in the siege.

He told the Reuters agency that he was huddled in a room with Chinese and Canadian residents of the hotel and a waiter when he was texted to say that police knew where he was hiding.

“They told us by text that the police knew we were in that room and that they would come, and one-and-a-half hours later, the police came to evacuate us,” he said.

He added that the attackers started shooting at them “like snipers,” as armed officers escorted them out. The police fired back, he said.

‘I saw a leg’

John Maingi said there had been “a flash of lights and a loud bang” at the Secret Garden restaurant where he worked.

“When I peeped outside I saw a human leg, which has been cut off,” he told AFP news agency.

“We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us.”


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