Pinoys in Nairobi urged to stay indoors amid Kenya terror attack

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2019 12:04 AM

Cars are seen on fire at the scene of explosions and gunshots in Nairobi, Kenya, January 15, 2019. Thomas Mukoya, Reuters

MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday advised Filipinos in Nairobi, Kenya to stay indoors amid a suspected terror attack.

The Philippine Embassy in Nairobi urged the more than 400 Filipinos in the Kenyan capital to stay vigilant and avoid the Westland's neighborhood where the explosion and gunfire took place.

Ambassador to Kenya Norman Garibay said initial reports indicated 5 fatalities in what is suspected to be a terror attack that occurred just 3 kilometers from the embassy. All embassy personnel are on lockdown.

An explosion and sustained gunfire at DusitD2 hotel and office complex sent workers fleeing for their lives on Tuesday, an attack claimed by Somali Islamist group al Shabaab that it said was ongoing.

A plume of smoke rose above the 14 Riverside Drive complex. Firefighters extinguished 3 cars ablaze by the entrance as armed security personnel headed in and other armed officers escorted shocked workers out, many with their hands up.

A woman shot in the leg was carried out and 3 men emerged covered in blood. Some office workers climbed out of windows. Many told Reuters that they had to leave colleagues behind, still huddled under their desks.

"There's a grenade in the bathroom," an officer yelled as police rushed out from one building.

A picture of the grounds on Twitter showed what appeared to be a human leg lying on the ground.

"We heard a loud bang from something that was thrown inside. Then I saw shattered glass," Geoffrey Otieno, who works at a beauty salon in the complex, told Reuters. "We hid until we were rescued."

Kenya has often been targeted by al Shabaab, who killed dozens of people in a shopping center in 2013 and nearly 150 students at a university in 2015.

"We are behind the attack in Nairobi. The operations is going on," said Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group's military operations spokesman.

The police were already treating the incident as a potential militant attack.

"We have to go for the highest incident that could take place. The highest incident we have is a terror (attack)," police spokesman Charles Owino told Citizen Television. Violent robberies are also common in Kenya.

"I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives," a woman working in a bank in the complex said, adding she had heard 2 explosions.

"We are under attack," another person in an office told Reuters, then hung up. - with reports from Reuters