- On an idyllic day in Nairobi, attackers snaked their way to Westlands and set off a chain of events that would change the lives of Kenyans forever.
- ‘‘If I die, I love the Lord and I believe I’ll go to heaven. Please tell my family I love them. I love you Caleb, Mark and Carol.’’ This tweet from a victim goes viral as news of the attack spread fast around the world.
It is January 15, a typical Tuesday afternoon in Nairobi. It’s warm and partly cloudy. Other than the characteristic vibrancy of city life, it’s a quiet and unremarkable day.
At 14 Riverside Drive, less than five kilometres west of the central business district, life rolls on. But something awful is about to happen that will throw the country into pandemonium and scar the lives of Kenyans forever.
At 2.30 pm, a Toyota Ractis Registration No KCN 340E and another vehicle drive into DusitD2 Hotel complex in Westlands.
Four occupants, wearing headscarves and bearing AK-47 guns, are captured by CCTV cameras advancing into the compound. The quartet announces its arrival with explosions as the men hurl grenades at vehicles in the parking lot, setting them ablaze.
This complex has five buildings housing an upscale hotel, and is home to several local companies and international organisations. Hundreds of people are immersed in their work, unaware of the events unfolding outside.
Once inside, a fifth attacker walks unnoticeably to the Secret Garden restaurant at the lobby of the building. Here, he blows himself up, killing about seven patrons and hotel staff. Multiple others are injured.
After this explosion, the other attackers force their way further into the vast compound, by shooting at guards. Indiscriminate shooting follows. Chaos erupts.
Now on high alert, patrons, residents and employees of different companies take cover.
From their hideouts, they make frantic calls to family and friends. They break the news to the world: The hotel is under attack, possibly a terror attack.
In the bathroom of Grosvenor building where he’s hiding, a distressed Ronald Ng'eno knows that if he isn't rescued, he will surely die.
He tweets: ‘‘If I die, I love the Lord and I believe I’ll go to heaven. Please tell my family I love them. I love you Caleb, Mark and Carol.’’
The tweet goes viral as news of the attack spreads fast around the world. First to respond are private security personnel and off-duty police officers who immediately engage the attackers, forestalling the threat of more casualties.
Their gallantry to thank, hundreds are rescued and led into safety. Still, hundreds are trapped in the building. The location of the attackers is unknown, but witnesses can hear heavy gunfire. Help is needed, and fast.
People with gunshot wounds, others with cuts from the explosions, are helped to waiting ambulances and rushed to various hospitals in the city.