Tag Archives: Kenya

Kenya’s terror survivors need more trauma support

The Dusit hotel, which was part of the complex attacked by terrorists in Nairobi in January 2019, has reopened. 21 people died in the attack, bringing the number killed in terror attacks in Kenya to at least300 in the past five years. These attacks have been traumatic for many of those affected. Stephen Asatsa tells The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner what needs to be done to support them.

Civilians run for safety as police provide cover during the suicide bombing and mass shooting attack on the 14 Riverside complex. Wikimedia
Civilians run for safety as police provide cover during the suicide bombing and mass shooting attack on the 14 Riverside complex. Wikimedia

How does trauma affect people who are directly or indirectly involved in a terror attack?

When a person feels like they’re in a crisis, the hindbrain (lower back of the brain) is activated while the forebrain is switched off. The hindbrain deals with survival functions: fight, flight or freeze. The forebrain deals with higher functions like logical reasoning, language and imagination. The forebrain isn’t helpful in times of crisis because it’s slow to make decisions.

This means that initial interventions must target the hindbrain to normalise the body from its state of emergency. Meditation, breathing exercises, massage and physical activities – like dance and games – can all help to relax the hindbrain. Later it can process the traumatic event during long term counselling.

Once the body returns to normal, it is important to track unprocessed emotions and help the survivors to express them. Social support is one of survivors’ greatest resources for survivors. This can be offered by strengthening family and friend ties to promote long term recovery, even after counselling stops. Family members should also be actively involved in crisis interventions.

Untreated trauma is dangerous. It may develop into other mental health issues that lead to drug abuse, depression, anger and hatred.

What does research show about the type of trauma people experience and the effectiveness of counselling at overcoming it?

Threatening events lead to direct or secondary trauma. Direct trauma involves physically experiencing or witnessing the event – people who survive the threatening event, as well as those who may not have faced the threat but saw others being attacked. It would also apply to rescue staff like the police, fire fighters and doctors.

Secondary trauma involves people who were not physically present during the event but learn about it through others or through the mass media.

Symptoms are similar in both types of trauma. Traumatised people tend to be hyper vigilant, agitated, suffer from negative mood swings and avoid reminders of the crisis. But often, those who experience secondary trauma are neglected.

Yet research shows that from a single traumatic event, there are instances where more people have secondary trauma. For example a survey on the effects of terrorism in Pakistan reported 3.9% physical effects (direct trauma – meaning they were present at the location of the crisis), while 79.2% reported mental health effects (secondary trauma).

How prevalent has counselling been for those affected by terror attacks in Kenya?

The use of counselling services in Kenya is very low. During the crisis intervention that followed the 1998 terror attack on the US embassy in Nairobi, just 15% of survivors sought counselling services.

Recently there’s been an improvement, possibly because of increased awareness and moretrained psychologists.

In my study on the Garissa University terror attack survivors – in which 148 people were killed – I found that most survivors received counselling services. Only 16.5% didn’t. But a large number only had “critical incident debriefing”, which usually involves fewer than three counselling sessions. Survivors may need longer forms of intervention to give the healing process enough time.

I also found that women were more likely to attend long-term counselling. This could be attributed to cultural reasons: men are socialised not to ask for help even when they need it.

What type of counselling works best in these situations?

Many different approaches can be used to help terror survivors.

Psychological first aid focuses on initial emotional support offered to victims of trauma in a bid to reduce distress and prevent further trauma. This is not necessarily offered by mental health practitioners, but by any available helper.

Critical incident debriefing is offered to trauma victims with the aim of preventing the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe condition that could drastically affect a person’s normal functioning by keeping them withdrawn, highly agitated, restless, and sometimes suicidal.

These trauma interventions are the most prevalent forms of psychological support in times of crises. But they are short-term. Missing out on long-term counselling poses a threat to survivors’ mental health. Survivors of the Garissa terrorist attack, for instance, pinpointed a few painful experiences that slowed their recovery. These included the short term nature of counselling, counselling being stopped too soon and relatives being excluded from crisis intervention.

There needs to be a shift to long-term counselling which targets the survivors, their family members, rescue workers, counsellors, news reporters and the general public.

Are there lessons from other countries on how best to support victims?

There’s a lack of awareness in Kenya about the importance of mental health. This may be partly why people don’t seek out counselling. In some developed countries, by contrast, mental health is fully entrenched in public health institutions.

In Kenya, the mental health sector is not well regulated, compromising the quality of services. Legal frameworks – like the Counsellors and Psychologists Act of 2014 – haven’t been implemented because of competing professional bodies that make it hard to monitor the profession. The ministry of health also seems reluctant to register and license counsellors and psychologists, which could be the reason why humanitarian organisations often take the lead in coordinating psychologists during a crisis.

If the government allocated funds to mental health, and took it seriously, there would be better services for survivors of traumatic events, like terrorism, who would receive proper psychological help.

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Ethiopian Airlines crash: all you need to know as 30 nations grieve for victims

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi is a tragedy that threatens to leave fresh questions hanging over the aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Few details about the crash are yet available, but according to Ethiopian Airlines the pilot, who was experienced with an excellent flying record, reported difficulties and asked to turn back.

Africa’s aviation safety record has never been good, though Ethiopian has been regarded as an exception. Technical experts from Boeing are standing by for an international investigation into a crash that involved passengers from at least 32 countries.

Here are all we know so far

Carriers ground Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in wake of disaster

Ethiopian Airlines joins China and Cayman Islands in suspending use of the new jets following second tragedy in four months

A man carries a piece of debris on his head at the crash site of a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight near Bishoftu Photograph: Michael Tewelde/AFP/Getty Images

Ethiopian Airlines has joined carriers in China and the Cayman Islands in suspending the use of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of a crash that killed all 157 people on board on Sunday.

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302, on its way to Nairobi from Addis Ababa, crashed six minutes after take-off, ploughing into a field near Tulu Fara village outside the town of Bishoftu, 40 miles south-east of the Ethiopian capital.

The disaster was the second involving the new aircraft in the last four months. In October, a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea off the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, killing all 189 onboard.

“Following the tragic accident of ET 302 … Ethiopian Airlines has decided to ground all B-737-8 MAX fleet effective yesterday, March 10, until further notice,” the state-owned carrier said in a statement released on Twitter on Monday.

“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we have to decide to ground the particular fleet as an extra safety precaution,” said the airline, which is Africa’s largest.

The move came after China’s aviation authorities ordered the country’s airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 jets.

The cause of the crash is unknown, but Cayman Airlines also suspended operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes while investigations continued.

The civil aviation administration of China (CAAC) issued a notice on Monday at 9am local time ordering domestic airlines to suspend the commercial operation of the Boeing 737- Max 8 aircraft before 6pm.

Referring to the Boeing 737 Max 8 as a Boeing 737-8, the CAAC said it made the decision “in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft” and had “certain similarities.” 

The regulator said the grounding of the planes was “in line with our principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks”. The CAAC said it would be contacting US aviation authorities and Boeing before restoring flights of the aircraft.

Roughly 60 of the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have been delivered to about a dozen Chinese airlines since the new craft was released. Chinese carriers make up about 20% of deliveries of the model through January, according to Bloomberg. On Monday, two Chinese airlines told the Guardian they had begun using Boeing 737-800 aircraft instead of the Max 8.

Cayman Airways, which also flies the Boeing 737 Max 8 craft, also announced it would ground the planes while the investigation into the crash was ongoing. Cayman Airways president and chief executive Fabian Whorms said the airline was “putting the safety of our passengers and crew first”.

More than 300 Boeing 737-MAX planes are in operation and more than 5,000 have been ordered worldwide since 2017.

In Britain, the holiday operator Tui Airways ordered 32 Max aircraft as part of a major fleet overhaul and took delivery of its first Max 8 in December. Tui was the first UK-registered airline to receive one of the new Boeing aircraft and plans to roll out its orders over the next five years.

Based at Manchester Airport, the planes are due to ferry passengers to a range of holiday destinations from the north-west. The carrier’s German parent company is reported to have bought 54 Max 8s.

Several airlines told the Guardian they did not intend to ground their flights, including Fiji Airways, which said it had “full confidence in the airworthiness of our fleet.”

BOC Aviation, an aircraft leasing company based in Singapore, which has five Boeing Max 8, 9 and 10 aircraft in service with lessees and another 90 on order said they had “no intention of grounding aircraft at this stage or changing our aircraft orders. The data available is limited and we can’t speculate on [what] might have been the cause of the crash.”

30 nations grieve for victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash

UN a ‘house in mourning’ as 19 staff members die along with 32 Kenyan citizens, 18 from Canada and seven Britons

Joanna Toole was the first British victim of the plane crash to be named. Photograph: Facebook

Three young Austrian doctors, an environmental campaigner from Devon, a former Nigerian ambassador and the wife and children of a Slovak legislator, have been named among the 157 people killed after Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed shortly after takeoff.

The plane contained passengers from more than 30 nationalities including 32 Kenyan citizens, 18 from Canada, nine from Ethiopia, eight from Italy, China and the US and seven from the UK and France.

Many of the passengers were en route to the United Nations environment assembly in Nairobi, which starts on Monday. At least 19 people affiliated with the organisation were killed. Not all of the victims have been named so far but stories about those onboard were starting to emerge on Monday.

‘In deep grief’

A lawmaker from Slovakia said his wife, daughter and son were killed in the crash. Anton Hrnko, a legislator for the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party, said he was “in deep grief” over the deaths of his wife, Blanka, son, Martin, and daughter, Michala. Their ages were not immediately available. President Andrej Kiska offered his condolences to Hrnko.

Kenya had the largest number of victims, including Hussein Swaleh, the former secretary general of the Football Kenya Federation who was due to return home on the flight after working as the match commissioner in an African Champions League game in Egypt on Friday.

Another Kenyan on the flight was Cedric Asiavugwa, a law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Asiavugwa, who was born and raised in Mombassa, was on his way to Nairobi after the death of his fiancee’s mother. Before he came to Georgetown, he worked with groups helping refugees in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the university said.

At least seven Britons were on the flight, the British Foreign Office has confirmed.

The first British victim to be named was Joanna Toole, a 36-year-old environmental campaigner from Exmouth, Devon, who worked for the fisheries and aquaculture department of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The department’s director, Manuel Barange, tweeted that he was “profoundly sad and lost for words” over the death of his colleague. He said she had been travelling to Nairobi to represent the FAO at the UN environment assembly.

Barange said Toole was “a wonderful human being who loved her work with a passion. Our love to her family and loved ones.”

Toole’s Facebook profile states that she lived in Rome, where the FAO is based.

Her father, Adrian, told Devon Live: “Joanna’s work was not a job, it was her vocation. She had never really wanted to do anything else but work in animal welfare since she was a child. Everybody was very proud of her and the work she did; we’re still in a state of shock.”

The family of Joseph Waithaka, a Kenyan and British dual national, said the 55-year-old had died in the crash.

His son Ben Kuria told the BBC his father, who had lived in Hull for more than a decade before moving back to Kenya, was a “generous” man who “loved justice”.

Waithaka, who had worked for the Humberside Probation Trust, saw his son on Saturday in Croydon, London, before flying to Kenya via Addis Ababa.

“I gave him a hug and shook his hand, because in my culture it’s more about the handshake than it is about the hug,” Kuria told BBC News. “I said we’ll probably see you at some point soon. We usually spend a bit more time saying goodbye, but yesterday it kind of just felt routine.”

Abiodun Oluremi Bashu, an ambassador from Nigeria, was also killed in the crash. The Nigerian ministry of foreign affairs said it received the news of his death “with great shock”.

After joining the Nigerian foreign service in 1976, Bashu served in embassies around the world including Vienna, Austria, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Tehran, Iran. He also served as secretary to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the time of his death, Bashu was on contract with the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa.

Michael Ryan. Photograph: World Food Programme/PA

One Irish national was killed; Michael Ryan, a father of two who worked for the UN’s World Food Programme. Ryan, who was based in Rome, was global deputy chief engineer for the aid agency and had been on a work trip in Ethiopia.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tribute to Ryan on Twitter, saying: “Our thoughts tonight are with families of all those lost in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, including Irish engineer Michael Ryan.

“Michael was doing life-changing work in Africa with the World Food Programme. Deepest sympathies to family, colleagues & friends.”

Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian professor with Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, also died on the flight.

The author of “Naija No Dey Carry Last,” a collection of satirical essays, Adesanmi was described as a “towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship” by Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton’s president and vice chancellor.

Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian professor with Carleton University in Ottowa, Canada, was the winner of the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing in 2010. Photograph: Josh Hotz/AP

Sebastiano Tusa, 66, a renowned Italian underwater archaeologist, was another killed, the Italian government said. He had been flying to Kenya for a project with Unesco.

In a tweet, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said: “We are united with the relatives of the victims and offer them our heartfelt thoughts.”

‘This is a house in mourning’

Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Guschelbauer confirmed that three doctors in their early 30s were on board the flight. The men were on their way to Zanzibar, he said, but he could not confirm the purpose of their trip.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane was believed to be carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members en route to Nairobi when it hit the ground six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.

Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened to hear of the devastating loss of life following the plane crash in Ethiopia”.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the prime minister said: “At this very difficult time my thoughts are with the families and friends of the British citizens on board and all those affected by this tragic incident.”

The spokesman for the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he was “deeply saddened at the tragic loss of lives”.

“He conveys his heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the victims’ families and loved ones, including those of United Nations staff members, as well as sincere condolences to the government and people of Ethiopia,” the spokesman said. “The United Nations is in contact with the Ethiopian authorities and working closely with them to establish the details of United Nations personnel who lost their lives in this tragedy.”

Inger Andersen, the incoming head of UN environment, told the Guardian the organisation was “devastated”.

“This is a house in mourning but a house that doesn’t yet know all the facts.”

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said in a statement he joins the international community in mourning the lives of so many. He says the Canadian government is providing consular assistance and working with local authorities to gather further information.

UK investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are likely to be communicating with their counterparts in Ethiopia to keep next of kin informed.

How ‘excellent’ pilot was unable to avert disaster

The scene of the crash near the town of Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Aviation authorities have begun investigating how a new Boeing plane with an experienced pilot crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

The destruction of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302, which was on its way to Nairobi, is the second calamity involving a Boeing 737 Max 8, a new model that experienced a similar accident in Indonesia in October.

The largest number of the victims were Kenyans. At least seven Britons were on the flight, which left Bole airport at 8.38am local time (5.38am GMT).

At least 19 people affiliated with the United Nations were among those killed, according to the UN migration agency chief. Many were delegates on their way to the UN environment assembly, which starts in Nairobi on Monday. Eighteen Canadians also died.

The pilot said he was experiencing technical problems and asked to return to the airport. The control tower lost contact with the aircraft at 8.44am. Wreckage was later discovered near the town of Bishoftu, 39 miles (62km) south-east of the Ethiopian capital.

The flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted that the plane had unstable vertical speed after takeoff.

The cause of the accident is not yet known. The Ethiopian Airlines chief executive, Tewolde GebreMariam, said routine maintenance had revealed no problems with the plane, and the captain Yared Getachew had flown more than 8,000 hours with an “excellent flying record”. The airline took delivery of the plane in November.

“As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time,” he told reporters.

Questions have been raised about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8, which has been in commercial operation since 2016. The same model was involved in the Lion Air crash, where a jet plunged into the Java Sea soon after takeoff last year, killing 189 people.

More than 300 of these planes are in operation with different airlines. Ethiopian has six more. Asked whether they would be grounded, GebreMariam said no because “we don’t know the cause of the accident”.

Several airlines around the world fly the 737 Max 8. On Sunday night reports said China had asked its local airlines to temporarily ground the planes.

In a statement, the airline said it would conduct a forensic investigation in conjunction with officials from Boeing, the Ethiopian civil aviation authority, the Ethiopian transport authority other international bodies.

The plane contained passengers from more than 30 nationalities. According to the airline, Kenya had 32, Canada 18, Ethiopia nine, Italy, China and the US eight each, the UK and France seven each, Egypt six, the Netherlands five, India and Slovakia four each, Sweden and Russia three each and other countries one or two.

Sebastiano Tusa, 66, a renowned Italian archaeologist, was among those killed, the Italian government said. He had been flying to Kenya for a project with Unesco.

A Slovakian MP, Anton Hrnko, wrote on Facebook that his wife, son and daughter had all been killed in the crash. “It is with deep sorrow that I announce that my dear wife, Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michala, died in the air disaster in Addis Ababa this morning.”

Kenyan authorities offered support to families and friends waiting at Nairobi airport. The transport secretary, James Macharia, said they would be transported to an emergency centre at a nearby hotel. “It is a very sensitive emotional matter,” he said.

Earlier many people had been waiting at the arrival gate with no information.

“We’re just waiting for my mum. We’re just hoping she took a different flight or was delayed. She’s not picking up her phone,” said Wendy Otieno.

Robert Mudanta, 46, was waiting for his brother-in-law coming from Canada. “We haven’t seen anyone from the airline or the airport,” he told Reuters more than three hours after the flight was lost. “Nobody has told us anything. We are just standing here hoping for the best.”

Four of those on board were travelling on UN passports. . “Early indications are that 19 staff members of UN affiliated organizations perished,” said International Organization for Migration head Antonio Vitorino.

“Numerous other staff members from at least five UN and affiliated organizations are understood to have also perished,” he said.

Inger Anderson, the incoming head of UN environment, told the Guardian: “We’re devastated by what transpired. Obviously many of our partners and colleagues are deeply impacted. This is a house in mourning but a house that doesn’t yet know all the facts.” The assembly’s organisers have shared details of emergency hotlines with delegates.

Several prominent humanitarian workers were among the victims, including International Committee for the Development of Peoples founder Paolo Dieci; three members of Italian humanitarian organisation Africa Tremila, including the president Carlo Spini, his wife, and treasurer Matteo Ravasio; and Save the Children child protection in emergencies adviser Tamirat Mulu Demessie.

The Ethiopian prime minister’s office sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said the crash was “devastating”.

Under international rules, responsibility for leading the crash investigation lies with Ethiopia but the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will also participate because the plane was designed and built in the United States.

Representatives of Boeing and Cincinnati-based engine-maker CFM, a joint venture between General Electric and the French company Safran, will advise the NTSB.

The aircraft had shattered into many pieces and was severely burnt, a Reuters reporter at the scene of the crash said. Clothing and personal effects were scattered widely over the field where the plane came down.

An eyewitness told AFP the plane came down in flames. “The plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion,” Tegegn Dechasa recounted at the site. “I was near the river near the crash site. Shortly after the crash police and a fire crew from a nearby air force camp came and extinguished the plane’s flames on the ground.”

He added: “The plane was in flames in its rear side shortly before the crash. The plane was swerving erratically before the crash.”

The cause of the earlier crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia is still under investigation. A preliminary report focused on airline maintenance and training, as well as the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but did not give a reason for the crash. Since then, the cockpit voice recorder was recovered and a final report is due later this year.

State-owned Ethiopian is one of the biggest carriers in Africa by fleet size. It said previously that it expected to carry 10.6 million passengers last year. Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after takeoff.

The airline is in the middle of an expansion, aiming to double its fleet to 120 and become Africa’s biggest airline by 2025. It has tripled its passenger numbers over the past decade. A new terminal recently opened at Bole, tripling the airport’s size.

Additional reporting by Lorenzo Tondo

Second new Boeing 737 to crash in four months

Confidence that a newer plane inevitably means a safer plane in danger of being shaken

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photograph: EPA

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi is a tragedy that threatens to leave fresh questions hanging over the aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Few details about the crash are yet available, but according to Ethiopian Airlines the pilot, who was experienced with an excellent flying record, reported difficulties and asked to turn back.

Africa’s aviation safety record has never been good, though Ethiopian has been regarded as an exception. Technical experts from Boeing are standing by for an international investigation into a crash that involved passengers from at least 32 countries.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, a brand new plane only registered in November, disappeared from the radar six minutes into the flight. Immediate comparisons have been drawn with Lion Air flight 610, which crashed just over four months ago, killing 189 people. Flight data showed erratic climbs and descents before the plane, also a MAX 8, came down 12 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta.

More than 300 Boeing 737-MAX planes are in operation and more than 5,000 have been ordered worldwide since 2017. It is the latest iteration of the 737, the world’s bestselling plane, ever more capable of flying autonomously.

Autonomy, however, can bring problems. It is notable that insurers considering driverless cars worry most about the period when highly autonomous vehicles will coexist with human drivers, the uncertain interface between human and artificial intelligence.

Pilots worldwide were angered after the Lion Air crash that subtle software modifications to the MAX 8’s autopilot had not been fully communicated. Nor were they made the subject of mandatory pilot retraining.

The new plane automatically compensates if it believes its angle puts it at a risk of stalling, a safety feature that worked in a slightly different way to that which 737 pilots were used to. Lion Air’s black box suggested the pilots of flight 610 had been wrestling with this issue.

Boeing argued that if pilots followed existing procedures, there should be no danger. Past crashes, however, and most famously the AirFrance flight 447 disaster in the south Atlantic, have shown that the sensors on which aircraft computer systems rely can malfunction, and that pilots who have grown to trust the technology can become rapidly bewildered when things go wrong. All too human reactions led to disaster.

The aviation industry has boasted that it is safer than ever in recent years, and the International Air Transport Association reported no accidents involving a modern commercial passenger jet over several years this decade. Turboprops and old cargo planes might fail, but the worst disasters were ascribed to deliberate acts – terrorist attacks, pilot suicide, Russian missiles – or, in the case of MH370, left unexplained.

Emerging details from Ethiopia may quickly show a specific cause that is completely unrelated to any issues at Lion Air or to the new 737. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Authority, which regulates the company, will hope so. Confidence that a newer plane automatically means a safer plane is in danger of being shaken.

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK/NYT/Sky News/Al Jazeera

Nairobi attack: latests and all you need to know

Here is the latest on the terror attack on Nairobi hotel.

‘Two suspects arrested’

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the 14 Riverside Drive attack in Nairobi on Tuesday, local Daily Nation reports quoting George Kinoti, Director of Criminal Investigations.


One of the suspects, a woman only identified as Kemunto, was arrested in Kiambu county in a house where one of the attackers is believed to have lived,according to Citizen TV.

A male suspect was arrested in Eastleigh area in the capital.

Islamist militant group al-Shabab have claimed responsibility for the attack which lasted 19 hours and claimed the lives of at least 14 people.

‘Fifty unaccounted for’

Kenya’s Red Cross says 50 people are still unaccounted for following the end of the hotel siege.

The official death toll currently stands at 14.

Police say five militants were killed during the security operation.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said over 700 peoiple were rescued.

He said the country remains a safe place for foreign visitors, and that those involved in planning this attack will be hunted down.

Read the Kenya Red Cross statement below:

‘Five attackers involved’

Kenya’s police boss Joseph Boinnet has said five attackers took part in Tuesday’s attack at a Nairobi complex, news agency AFP reports.

Security camera footage showed at least four heavily armed men walking in the compound and opening fire.

Kenyan security officers praised

Kenyan security officers are being praised for their work in ending the attack at the Dusit complex.

Government officials, opposition leaders and ordinary Kenyans have hailed them as “heroes”.

Islamist militants from the al-Shabab group attacked the complex on Tuesday afternoon killing at least 14 people.

President Uhuru Kenyatta told a press briefing earlier today that all the militants had been killed and over 700 people rescued.

Security camera footage showed at least four heavily armed men walking in and opening fire.

Kenyans donating blood in Mombasa

Kenyans have been donating blood to help those injured in Tuesday’s attack at the luxury DusitD2 complex in the capital, Nairobi.

Concerned citizens as far away as the coastal city of Mombasa have gone to different centres to donate blood.

Twitter users, including a local MP, have been sharing pictures about the exercise.

Kenyan Muslim leaders condemn ‘barbaric attack’

Leaders from 10 Muslim organisations in Kenya have released a joint statement condemning Tuesday’s attack at the DusitD2 hotel in Riverside area in the capital, Nairobi.

Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the joint statement, the leaders condemn “in the strongest terms possible the barbaric attack on 14 Riverside Drive”.

The organisations have jointly set up a counselling and blood donation centre in Chiromo, a suburb in Nairobi.

Jamia Mosque, where the press conference was held, has recently been a target of online threats.

Some call for an attack on the mosque, which is frequented predominantly by Somalis.

Kenya siege map

The siege in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on the complex, which houses the luxury DusitD2 hotel, began at about 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

Gunmen threw bombs at vehicles in the car park before entering the lobby, where one blew himself up, police say.

The BBC has put together this map and timeline of the siege:

Nairobi attack: gunmen in armed standoff with police

Anti-terrorist forces trying to regain control of complex seized amid explosions.

Police and anti-terrorist forces were battling to regain control of a Nairobi hotel and office complex as night fell, hours after it was attacked by Islamist extremist gunmen.

People flee the scene of the explosions. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

The assault on the dusitD2 compound in the Kenyan capital, which includes a luxury hotel, restaurants, a spa and several office buildings housing international companies, was the most spectacular by terrorists in the country for many years.

Sustained automatic gunfire and grenade explosions were heard as the gunmen rushed in and scores of people fled the scene.

There were reports that at least seven people had been killed and one suspect detained. At least 10 more were wounded, with local hospitals asking for blood donations. The death toll was expected to rise.

 

The attack was claimed by al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist organisation based in neighbouring Somalia, on its in-house radio network and online. Al-Shabaab was responsible for an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in 2013 that left at least 67 people dead.

People run for cover after being rescued from the Dusit Hotel on Jan. 15,

The alarm was raised at about 3pm on Tuesday when gunfire and explosions were heard at the hotel, in the upscale Westlands neighbourhood of the city. Dozens of ambulances, police vehicles and fire engines arrived at the scene as fleeing office workers filled the surrounding streets.

Witnesses said two cars had been driven at speed towards the hotel complex at about 3pm. One appeared to have been used to blast open its gates. Security personnel came under fire before gunmen entered the complex, initially targeting a bank and diners at a Thai restaurant.

As gunfire continued to be heard from the complex in the early evening, police officials said that special forces had cleared six of the hotel’s seven floors.

“We have made considerable progress in containing the situation. Various premises have been [secured] that had been taken over by armed criminals,” Kenya’s inspector general of police, Joseph Boinnet, told reporters.

Tuesday’s attack came exactly three years after a deadly al-Shabaab attack on a Kenyan military base in El-Adde in Somalia, where about 140 Kenyasoldiers were killed.

“Al-Shabaab mujahideen snipers are in operation in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Our reports confirm that mujahideen fighters stormed the target building,” the al-Shabaab statement said.

Witnesses reported that the attackers were wearing military fatigues and wrapped in ammunition when they ran into the hotel.

People are evacuated from the compound in Nairobi. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

In the hours after the attack, the gunmen and security forces were engaged in a fierce firefight. Plumes of smoke rose into the air from several burning cars. “There was a bomb, there is a lot of gunfire,” said one man working at the complex, asking not to be named.

Others described office workers in the complex hiding under the desks or sheltering behind makeshift barricades. Hundreds were evacuated from nearby buildings.

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,” Boinnet told reporters.

Boy arrested for posing as girl in Kenyan music exam

A talented musician who passed himself off as a girl during music exams at a high school in Kenya has been arrested, local media report.

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He wore a girls’ uniform and attracted the attention of other students “as he played instruments with dexterity, unlike the rest of them”, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reports.

The boy involved has not been named.

The incident took place at Mukuyu Girls’ Secondary School in Kakamega County in western Kenya.

The musician was a student in neighbouring Uasin Gishu County.

The principal at the girls’ school as well as the school’s music teacher have also been arrested.


Cover photo: The authorities have recently been trying to crack down on wide-scale cheating in exams in Kenya

Coke to launch sugar-free fanta in Kenya

Soft drinks Company Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) is expanding its sugar free range of beverages targeting increasingly health-conscious consumers.

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The company says it will next month introduce Fanta Zero adding to the existing Sprite Zero, Stoney Zero and Coke Zero being sold in Kenya.

“We will be bringing Fanta Zero in two weeks completing the range of Zero sugar soft drinks already available in Kenya,” said CCBA managing director Daryl Wilson.

Coca-Cola has been aggressively diversifying its soft drinks in Kenya including the introduction of its milk-juice blend under the Minute Maid range.

The milk infused juice was part of the line-up from the new Sh2.7 billion production line that allows for hot fill drinks, hence removing the need for preservatives.

“We are evolving our recipes to offer drinks that provide benefits like nutrition and hydration; and reduction of sugar by reformulating the sugar content in some of our products,” said Coca-Cola.

The water range has also been diversified to include flavoured sparkling water, which according to Mr Wilson, will be expanded in the near future to include flavoured still water.

In July, the soda maker introduced a lemon-flavoured carbonated drink dubbed Schweppes +C geared at reaching the adult consumer not served by its existing soda range.

The company has been forced to look for alternatives for its core business mode to cater for depressed global sales for soda as more and more consumers push for healthier drinks given the changing lifestyles.

Coca-Cola is banking on innovation and diversification of its soft drinks products in the country to grow sales.

In 2016 and 2017, the company invested Sh9.3 billion in its production and packaging lines to cater for the new brands alongside its mainstay soda, juice and water products.

According to the firm, its investments in Kenya have included Sh8.5 billion ($85 million) in infrastructure and Sh4.4 billion ($44 million) in distribution over the past five years.


Cover photo: A Fanta production line at the Coca Cola plant in Nanjing, China. Coca-Cola has been diversifying its soft drinks in Kenya. PHOTO | AFP 

Over 10 Million Mobile Users hit by SIM fraud

Over 25 percent of Kenya’s 43 million mobile users have been victims of SIM swap fraud, either as targets or victims, according to a survey by Myriad Connect.

French startup Moodstocks has developed technology that helps smartphones recognize whatever they are aimed at

The survey also reveals that 90 percent of Kenyan banking leaders see SIM swap fraud as a serious threat in the sector in what is becoming one of the rising global crimes involving mobile phones.

The most recent high-profile case is where US entrepreneur Michael Terpin who is suing AT&T over an alleged SIM swap that resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency tokens being stolen from his account

While in South Africa, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) reported recently that the incidence of SIM swap fraud has more than doubled in the past year.

“A SIM swap is when criminals manage to get a replacement SIM for a mobile number that does not belong to them, allowing the new SIM to supersede the existing one, and give criminals access to the legitimate user’s information and accounts,” says Willie Kanyeki, Myriad Connect Director Business Development – Africa.

Kanyeki adds that in addition to financial losses, SIM swap presents the risk of reputational damage and the exposure of sensitive data, and once fraudsters control a user’s accounts, “regaining control of them can be complex.”

In the past, the market’s response to the threat of digital transaction fraud has been to introduce authentication measures to protect transactions, often in the form of a one-time-password (OTP) over SMS.

Recent research among leading financial services CIOs in Kenya found that 87pc of financial services providers deploy OTP via SMS to protect transactions, and consumer research indicates that 71pc of consumers have used services that use OTP via SMS to authenticate financial service transactions.

“However, OTP via SMS has long been considered a vulnerable channel for authenticating financial services transactions, as it does not meet strict security standards,” says Kanyeki.

In 2016 the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US identified that SMS is a risk and that OTP via SMS is not fit to secure financial services as it can be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks such as SIM swap.

The American administration’s top diplomat for African affairs, Assistant Secretary of State Tibor P Nagy, Jr, will soon… Read more »

Everything about Jacque Maribe’s police statement

Citizen TV anchor Jacque Maribe has admitted to police that her fiancé Joseph Irungu shot himself in her house in an incident investigators believe was a suicide attempt.

According to Ms Maribe, Jowie, as her fiancé is known, shot himself in his chest following a “serious” disagreement between them in her house in Lang’ata on the night of September 20.

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Jowie later claimed in a police statement that he had been shot by three thugs after dropping off Ms Maribe at her house. Police have since questioned the narrative.

Ms Maribe and Jowie are being detained in separate police stations in Nairobi over the gruesome murder of Monica Kimani, whose body was found at her Kilimani apartment.

Jowie is the prime suspect in the murder.

The fresh details of the quarrel that led to Jowie shooting himself is contained in an affidavit sworn by the lead investigator. “That according to the statement from the Respondent (Jacqueline Maribe), the said Joseph Irungu alias Jowie on the night of 20/21st September 2018 at around 1am attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself on [sic] the left chest following serious disagreement between the two,” the investigator stated in his affidavit.

Police are yet to provide a link between Jowie’s stated suicide attempt and Ms Kimani’s murder.

They have also not expounded on the reason of the quarrel between Ms Maribe and her fiance.

On Monday, Ms Maribe and a third suspect Brian Kassaine were arraigned in Kiambu and the court ordered their detention for a further 10 days to allow for investigations.

The police have also announced they will extract DNA samples from Ms Maribe, information that will help in investigations.


Cover photo: Citizen TV journalist Jacque Maribe talking to her lawyer, Katwa Kigen, at the Kiambu Law Courts on October 1, 2018. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya mothers ‘ under pressure to kill disabled babies’

A new study has found that nearly half of Kenyan mothers with disabled babies were pressured to kill them.

Many campaigns have been launched to end discrimination against people with disabilities

The two-year research, carried out by the charity Disability Rights International, also found that such mothers are often blamed for the conditions of their children.

More than two thirds of mothers interviewed said disabled children were considered a curse.

They told researchers they were accused of having sinned – and brought it upon themselves.

One said her grandmother suggested she put needles in her son’s veins to kill him slowly. Another that she should feed her child acid.

The study did not however reveal the proportion of parents who actually ended their disabled babies’ lives.

But the BBC was told that infanticide is carried out secretly and often goes unreported.

Many communities across the world which carried out infanticide in the past have ended the practice. It is illegal in Kenya.


Cover photo: Many campaigns have been launched to end discrimination against people with disabilities