US citizen confirmed among at least 15 people feared killed in assault claimed by Islamist group al-Shabaab
Rashid Abdi, an expert in Islamic militancy in east Africa with the International Crisis Group in Nairobi, said al-Shabab was a versatile and patient organisation.
“It was always a matter of when not if. There has been some successes against al-Shabab in northern Kenya but if we have learned anything it is that al-Shabaab lulls security services into complacency. Months and years can go between attacks and then they strike.”
Though the Kenyan deployment in Somalia is one motive for al-Shabab’s attacks in Nairobi and elsewhere, the organisation is also committed to the broader causes of global jihadi ideology and sees the Kenyan capital as a key target.
Medics removed four bodies from buildings near the hotel , witnesses said. A medic said two more body bags were removed from another location nearby. One person died earlier at a hospital.
Kenya faced a spate of attacks after it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight al-Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaida.
On 2 April 2015, al-Shabaab killed 148 people at a university in Garissa, eastern Kenya. Islamic State has a small presence in the Horn of Africa.
Nairobi is the economic hub of the east Africa region with a big presence of western companies, diplomats and tourists. Kenya has long been a significant security partner of the US and other western countries.
Authorities said they had been vigilant over the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
“Hotels and other public buildings remain under close watch. Reports from throughout the country indicate that everything remains calm and normal,” Kenya’s inspector general of police, Joseph Boinnet, told reporters.