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Kenya attack: At least six killed in Nairobi hotel complex terror siege

Kenya attack: At least six killed in Nairobi hotel complex terror siegeIslamist terrorists detonated explosives and fired automatic weapons as they mounted a deadly attack on a hotel and business complex frequented by Westerners in Nairobi on Tuesday. Six people have been confirmed killed in the attack, while a Kenyan police officer told reporters 15 bodies had been taken to the mortuary. A mortuary worker added that identification papers indicated that 11 were Kenyan, one was American and one was British, while the other two did not have documents on them. Nationalities of the dead remain unconfirmed. Hundreds more remained trapped inside buildings  16 hours after the attack began. Local security forces freed scores of civilians as they fought their way into the grounds of 14 Riverside, a compound housing a hotel, restaurant, bars and office blocks in the city’s Westlands district.  But the reported six gunmen were still in control of parts of the five-star Dusit Hotel, part of a Thai-owned international chain that appeared to be the chief target of the attackers. The Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which has longstanding ties to al-Qaeda, claimed credit for the attack, revisiting the city in which they killed 67 people during an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in 2013. Cars are seen on fire at the scene of explosions and gunshots in Nairobi Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya Just as at Westgate, barely a mile way, this was a carefully chosen target designed to bring terror to one of the prosperous parts of an increasingly prosperous city and target Westerners and rich Kenyans alike. Several multinational firms, from America’s Colgate Palmolive to the German chemical giant BASF housed their local headquarters at 14 Riverside. Several British firms were also based there, the consultancy groups Control Risks and Adam Smith International among them. From the outset it was clear that this was a highly sophisticated attack. A suicide bomber blew himself up close to the entrance as two vehicles carrying the attackers breached a security barrier, regarded as one of the most efficient in Nairobi, at the entrance to the complex. Some of the attackers, lobbing grenades and firing automatic rifles, reportedly killed several people at the Secret Garden restaurant, a spot popular for business meetings close to the restaurant, before continuing on to the Dusit hotel.  “There was a big bang and then a lot of gunfire, up to 100 shots or more,” said Philip Coulson, a lawyer working in a nearby office block. “Later, I saw people fleeing and others being carried out with looks of pain or anguish on their face.” Terrified office workers in the complex’s five blocks, said to house more than 1,000 employees, hid under desks and barricaded doors. Others, caught in the open, ran frantically for cover.  “Run, run!” one man shouted from behind a low wall as colleagues stumbled on lawns and crawled along the ground in a desperate bid for safety as shots rang out. “Down! Down!” Extremists launched a deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya's capital  Credit: AP Photo/Brian Inganga Kenya’s security forces earned an ignominious reputation during the Westgate attack, after army units were accused of opening fire on their police colleagues, killing the officer in charge and then embarking on a looting spree. But this time, the initial response appeared more professional and coordinated. Army and police units, assisted by emergency crews, were quick to seal off the perimeter and rescue people from the office blocks, at least some of which appeared to be ignored by the attackers. Many were rescued within hours, fleeing under armed guard with their hands in the air before streaming in their scores across a footbridge to the safety of a nearby university campus. Everywhere signs of extreme emotion were visible. Shaking and often weeping, some survivors — mostly Kenyan, but some Westerners too — embraced anxious relatives waiting outside the police cordon. Others sank to the ground and gave thanks to God. Security forces at the scene in Nairobi Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis “After the first blast, after we saw the restaurant had been blown up, we ran and hid under tables,” said Elizabeth Maina, an employee at AC Nielsen, an American global research firm housed in the Belgravia building close to the entrance. “There was shooting everywhere. We called and sent messages to the police. After an hour, we saw men in uniforms and plain clothes enter the room. They shouted ‘police, police’ and led us out.” Workers in office blocks, with plenty of hiding places and lockable doors, were always more likely to survive. Those in the hotel, whose foyer opens out onto a restaurant, bar and swimming pool, would have had much less of a chance — as their attackers surely knew. Just how high the death toll could be is unlikely to become clear until the attack is over, although witnesses said they saw at least five bodies and reported body parts strewn on the ground outside the hotel. “There was no time to count the dead but it is true that there are people who have died,” said one police officer involved in the operation. A woman is reunited with her family after her evacuation from DusitD2 compound Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images Kenya has long been in al-Shabaab’s sights, even before it sent troops across the border into Somalia in 2011 in an attempt to root out the militants behind the abductions of Western tourists on the Kenyan coast, Britons among them.  In 1998, an al Qaeda attack, which involved a number of Somalis, on the American embassy in Nairobi killed more than 200 people. The number of attacks soared after 2011.  Westgate aside, 147 students were killed in an attack on a university in the northern town in Garissa in 2015 while scores more had previously died when suspected al Shabaab militants struck at villages on the northern Kenyan coast. Improved intelligence, aided by tactical and training support from Britain, has seen a halt to large-scale attacks since 2015, although often deadly ambushes on Kenyan forces near the Somali border remain frequent. Despite mounting domestic opposition and al-Shabaab attacks on their bases, Kenyan forces remain in Somalia. The attack on 14 Riverside came on the third anniversary of an al-Shabaab attack on a Kenyan military base in the Somali town of El Adde. Kenya has refused to release details of the death toll, but analysts say they believe more than 140 Kenyan soldiers were killed.



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Terrified civilians hide, send farewells, during Nairobi siege

Terrified civilians hide, send farewells, during Nairobi siegeWhen an explosion and gunfire rang out at an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, people hid under desks, cowered in bathrooms or hunkered down in their cars, some hiding through the entire 20-hour siege. Here are some of the stories from survivors of the attack in the Westlands district of the Kenyan capital that was claimed by Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab. “Please tell my family I love them,” 38-year-old Ronald Ng’eno wrote on Twitter in what he believed was his final goodbye.



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Jet slides off taxiway near Cincinnati, nation's capital under siege as winter storm roars east

Jet slides off taxiway near Cincinnati, nation's capital under siege as winter storm roars eastA jet slid off a taxiway in Cincinnati and power outages climbed in North Carolina as a deadly winter storm roared east.



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Armed man surrenders following 10-hour siege after negotiator sings White Christmas to him

Armed man surrenders following 10-hour siege after negotiator sings White Christmas to himA man with a rifle who held off a team of armed police in a 10-hour siege gave himself up after an officer sang a Christmas carol to him. Nathaniel Lewis, 34, allegedly started shooting at the specialised police who rushed to his home in Pennsylvania, US, when a relative reported him acting erratically on Christmas evening. The shots hit a police vehicle, a house and another vehicle, and the Swat (Special Weapons and Tactics) team returned fire.



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Gunman in deadly California siege was decorated veteran treated for PTSD

Gunman in deadly California siege was decorated veteran treated for PTSDBy Scott Bransford YOUNTVILLE, Calif. (Reuters) – Details emerged on Saturday about a decorated former U.S. serviceman who took three women hostage at a California veterans home where he had undergone treatment for PTSD, in a standoff that ended when police found him and his captives dead. The Veterans Home of California in Yountville, the largest such facility in the United States, was the scene on Friday of the latest mass shooting to rock a country still shocked by the slaughter last month of 17 people at a Florida high school. Officials named the gunman as Albert Wong, 36, of Sacramento, and said he had served with the U.S. Army on active duty from May 2010 to August 2013 and spent a year in Afghanistan.



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Turkey's Erdogan says Syria's Afrin town under siege, entry imminent

Turkey's Erdogan says Syria's Afrin town under siege, entry imminentTurkey’s military and its rebel allies have besieged the northern Syrian town of Afrin and were nearing its town center, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, in what would mark a major advance in Turkey’s military operation. Turkey launched its operation, dubbed “Olive Branch”, in northern Syria nearly seven weeks ago to sweep the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).



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Kabul hotel attack: 19 dead, including 14 foreigners, in overnight Taliban siege

Kabul hotel attack: 19 dead, including 14 foreigners, in overnight Taliban siegeAt least 19 people were killed during a 13 hour siege after Taliban gunmen in army uniforms stormed a luxury Kabul hotel popular with Afghan officials and foreigners. Eyewitnesses described how the gunmen deliberately targeted foreigners as they rampaged through the six-floor Intercontinental Hotel.   One Afghan man told the BBC that he was spared by militants who shouted "Where are the foreigners?" as they ran into the hotel's restaurant at around 9pm local time on Saturday night. At least 14 of the dead were believed to be foreign nationals, among them two Venezuelans and six Ukrainians. The gun battle ended on Sunday morning as Afghan special forces killed the last of the six gunmen, who were armed with grenades, automatic weapons and suicide vests. By 10am, Special Forces could be seen sweeping the roof of the hotel as firefighters attempted to extinguish a blaze which had ripped through the sixth floor. Thick clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop. Afghan security personnel stand guard as black smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel after an attack in Kabul Credit: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul Some 150 desperate staff and guests managed to escape the building throughout the night, amid heavy gunfire and explosions. One witness told AFP that the hotel's security team fled "without a fight". Dramatic footage showed people clambering down from upper-floor balconies using bedsheets tied together. Telecoms executive Aziz Tayeb posted a desperate plea on Facebook from a hiding place behind a pillar as attackers sprayed guests and staff with bullets: "Pray for me. I may die." Mr Tayeb was at the hotel for a major IT conference set to take place yesterday. The Intercontinental hotel in Kabul is under siege from gunmen. Credit: Reuters Abdul Rahman Naseri, also at the hotel for the conference, described how he saw four gunmen dressed in army uniforms. "They were shouting in Pashto, 'Don't leave any of them alive, good or bad'. 'Shoot and kill them all,’ one of them shouted," Mr Naseri said. "I ran to my room on the second floor. I opened the window and tried to get out using a tree but the branch broke and I fell to the ground. I hurt my back and broke a leg." The attackers are believed to have got into the hotel via the kitchen, and a worker in the restaurant said the men had sat down and ordered food, before opening fire. A man tries to escape from a balcony at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel during an attack by gunmen  Credit: Reuters "They were wearing very stylish clothes," the man, named as Haseeb, told Tolo News. "They came to me and asked for food. I served them the food and they thanked me and took their seats. Then they took out their weapons and started shooting the people." A senior security official said that the attackers had moved directly from the first floor to the fourth and fifth floors, suggesting the attack had been carefully prepared, possibly with inside help. An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit:  REUTERS "When the sixth floor caught fire this morning, my roommate told me, either burn or escape," said Mohammad Musa, who was hiding in his room on the top floor. "I got a bed sheet and tied it to the balcony. I tried to come down but I was heavy and my arms were not strong enough. I fell down and injured my shoulder and leg.""There were dozens of dead bodies lying around me." The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul was previously targeted in 2011. Credit: Reuters Wahid Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, last night said 19 bodies had been brought into the city's hospitals, but a senior Afghan security official said the death toll was over 30 and might climb higher. At least 11 of the dead worked for private Afghan airline Kam Air, which on Sunday suspended domestic flights. It said a further 14 emloyees were still missing. A security personnel points his weapon near the Intercontinental Hotel after a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: Massoud Hossaini Also among the dead was Dr Abdullah Waheed Poyan, a well-respected academic who had worked for the Afghan diplomatic corps. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said a private company had taken over responsibility for security at the hotel three weeks ago and there would be an investigation into possible failings, just days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul. Afghan security forces arrive the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit:  REUTERS The raid was the latest in a series of attacks that have underlined the city's vulnerability and the ability of militants to mount high-profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government. The Taliban, which attacked the same hotel in 2011, claimed responsibility for the attack, its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.



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Bel-Air wildfire joins the siege across Southern California

Bel-Air wildfire joins the siege across Southern CaliforniaA wildfire erupted in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel-Air section Wednesday as yet another part of Southern California found itself under siege from an outbreak of wind-whipped blazes that have consumed multimillion-dollar houses and tract homes alike.



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California communities under siege from wind-driven fires

California communities under siege from wind-driven firesVENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Wind-driven fires tore through California communities Tuesday for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.



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The Latest: End of Marawi siege is move against extremism

The Latest: End of Marawi siege is move against extremismCLARK, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on the Philippine fight to end the militant siege of Marawi (all times local):



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