NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – The al-Shabaab-linked terrorists who launched an attack on 14 Riverside Drive on Tuesday targeted the world, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has said.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said the 14 Riverside Drive complex was targeted because it hosted a number of global establishments and international interests.
“While this attack on the Dusit Complex was on the Kenyan territory, it was targeted at the world. The complex hosts a range international establishments and interests,” she said at a briefing to foreign envoys based in Nairobi.
Juma who was accompanied by Cabinet colleagues Fred Matiangi (Interior) and Najib Balala (Tourism), and National Police Service Inspector General Joseph Boinnet said more than ever, concerted efforts by the international community were critical to degrading terror groups.
“The attack is a clear reminder that the terrorists’ objective is to change the way of life of other societies is alive. It is a reminder that no country is immune to international terrorism,” the CS told the diplomatic corps.
Somali-based extremist group al-Shabaab that claimed responsibility for the attack had said in a statement aired on its radio arm, Andalus, it carried out the attack in response to a decision by United States President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The terrorist group said in the statement on Wednesday the economic interests of the US and Israel will suffer as long as the Trump administration continues with policies it termed as detrimental to Palestinians, including the December 6, 2017 proclamation by Trump.
Guatemala had joined the US in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 2018 with Paraguay’s foreign ministry backtracking on its earlier announcement to follow suit.
Al-Shabaab said the attack on 14 Riverside Drive was executed with instructions from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Somali-based terrorist group bares allegiance to al-Qaida.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemned the attack while calling for those involved to be brought to justice.
“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” a statement released by the UNSC press office on Wednesday read.
The fifteen-member body while expressing sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families paid tribute to Kenya’s role in the fight against terrorists in the region.
Kenya is among nations contributing to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) fighting to combat terrorism in the horn of Africa.
UN Secretary General António Guterres and the General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa condemned the attack while expressing “total solidarity with the people, the government, and the President of Kenya.”
Espinosa offered sincere condolences to affected families as she strongly condemned “these unexplainable acts of extreme violence.”
Security services ended a 20-hour siege on 14 Riverside Drive Wednesday morning, setting free over 700 hostages. At least 18 hostages were admitted to various city hospitals with various injuries.
In her brief to foreign envoys, CS Juma said the government will continue to cooperate with other countries in global efforts to combat terrorism.
“Kenya remains unbowed and will play her part in support of stronger international cooperation and efforts to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat all forms of terrorism,” she said.
The CS commended the international community for supporting Kenya as security services responded to the 14 Riverside Drive terror attack.
Juma equally expressed gratitude to the diplomats for sharing messages of solidarity with the county for the loss of 21 civilians during the incident reported at 3.30 pm on Tuesday.
“The messages of encouragement and support confirm the value of international cooperation, and reaffirm our commitment to the same,” she noted.
“They also demonstrated their solve from across the international community to strengthen counter terrorism efforts and cooperation with Kenya as well as numerous pledges, in various formations, to track and bring to justice all those who may have played a role in the execution of the attack,” the CS added.
The US had Thursday dismissed reports that it advised its nationals to avoid the dusitD2 complex on 14 Riverside Drive based on prior intelligence of an impending attack.
“Contrary to some false reports on social media, the United States had no advance notice of the attack, nor did we ever advise American citizens or our staff to avoid the DusitD2 prior to the incident,” the US Embassy in Nairobi said in a statement to newsrooms.
Ambassador Robert Godec however assured that the US government will continue to provide assistance in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
Security teams from the US embassy as well as an officer from Britain’s elite Special Air Service army unit were among response teams that contained the attackers setting over 700 hostages free by the end of the security operation Wednesday morning.
Godec warned against the spread of falsehoods saying in the wake of the terrorist attack “which only serves to hamper ongoing efforts to defeat terrorism.”