Tag Archives: terror attack

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.


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:

Maiduguri suicide attach: 12 people confirmed dead, 18 injured

The Police have confirmed that 12 persons were killed and 18 others injured in multiple suicide bomb attacks on the outskirts of Maiduguri on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A scene of Boko Haram attack. Photo: Premium Times

The Commissioner of Police, Damian Chukwu, told newsmen after the attack in Maiduguri that the death toll included four female suicide bombers, NAN reports,

Chukwu said that soldiers deployed to Mammanti and Cimeri area foiled an attempt by three other female suicide bombers to penetrate Maiduguri metropolis.

He said that two of the attackers were intercepted and killed by soldiers at about 11:59 p.m., on Sunday at Mammanti village in Konduga local government area.

Chukwu said that the military also intercepted and killed one suicide bomber who tried to enter Maiduguri at Cimeri area of Mafa local government.

He said that the fourth suicide bomber denoted the explosive strapped on her body at a mosque at about 4.30 a.m. in London Ciki area on the outskirts of Maiduguri.

“The suicide bomber detonated IED, blew herself up and killed eight persons.

“Security operatives have foiled three of the attempted suicide bomb attacks while only one of them carried out the attack and all the four suicide bombers were killed in the attack.’’

Chukwu added that all the attacks occurred on the outskirts of the metropolis.

According to him, those wounded in the attacks were rushed to the University of Maiduguri, Teaching Hospital for medical attention.

SOURCE: The Bloomgist/YNaija

DSS uncover Terrorists plans to attack strategic areas ahead of Eid-el-Fitr celebration

The Department of State Services (DSS) said it had exposed a plan by suspected terrorists to stage series of coordinated attacks using explosives in different cities across the country during the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

Boko Haram 2

According to Punch, the suspected terrorists’ plan was to hit populated places like markets, public parks, public processions, recreation centres, as well worship areas.

The DSS said that the plan by the suspected terrorists was to attack Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna and Maiduguri.

A director with the agency, Nnana Nnochiri, who briefed journalists in Abuja on Friday, however, said Nigerians should not worry and go about their activities as usual.

Nnochiri said, “In the past few weeks, this service has uncovered a sinister plot by terrorist elements to stage series of coordinated attacks using explosives on different cities across the country.

“Their aim was to hit on soft targets such as markets, public parks, public processions, recreation centres, as well as worship centres especially the Eid Praying grounds and other densely populated areas during the forthcoming Eid-el-Fitr Sallah celebrations.”

Consequently, Nnochiri said that the service had arrested two suspects in connection with the foiled planned attacks.

Only small number of Christians remain in Egypt | How long until all Christians are wiped out of the country? 

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians.

Only small number of Christians remain in Egypt | How long until all Christians are wiped out of the country? 
Monks look at the view following a terrorist attack against a group of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt on Friday. Photo: NYT/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive.

Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.

  • Sign up for our daily newsletters

In the past few months, the Islamic State has made its intentions toward Copts well known. “Our favorite prey” they called my co-religionists in a February video. Their barbaric attacks have left more than 100 Copts dead in the last few months alone. The Northern Sinai is now “Christianfrei,” or free of Christians.

Many serious questions will be asked in the next few days. How has the Islamic State been able to build such an extensive network inside mainland Egypt? Is the Islamic State moving its operations to Egypt as it faces pressure in Iraq and Syria? And why has Egypt repeatedly failed to prevent these attacks?

All of these questions are important and require thoughtful deliberation by the Egyptian regime and its allies around the world. But these are not the questions on the minds of my Coptic friends at home. They have far more intimate concerns: Am I putting my children’s lives at risk by remaining here? Should we leave? And what country will take us?

In February 2014, I met the head of the Jewish community in Egypt,Magda Haroun. Today, she told me, there are 15 Jews left in the country, out of a population that once stood at nearly 100,000. Ms. Haroun said she was afraid the Copts would soon follow.
At the time I thought the prospect was overblown. There are millions of Copts in Egypt.

Where would all of them possibly go? Surely some will remain, I reasoned. But I had left the country myself in 2009 — and so have hundreds of thousands of Copts. Even before the recent wave of attacks, Copts have been packing their bags and bidding 2,000 years of history farewell. As more find permanent homes in the West, more are able to bring relatives over. Ms. Haroun was right.

The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor — where one of the giants of the modern Coptic church, Father Matthew the Poor, was ordained in 1948 — is the only remaining monastery of 35 that once existed in the area. Copts had always been tied to Egypt, their very name derived from the Greek word for the country, Aigýptios. Despite waves of persecution at the hands of everyone from Roman and Byzantine emperors, Arab and Muslim governors and Egypt’s modern presidents, they have refused to leave. Their country once gave refuge to the young Jesus. Where will they now find sanctuary?

In 1954 an Egyptian movie called “Hassan, Marcus and Cohen” was produced. The comedy’s title represented characters from Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In 2008, a new movie, “Hassan and Marcus” hit theaters. It warned of the growing sectarian strife between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims. Fifty years from now, it seems likely that the sequel will just be “Hasan.”

Manchester attack: what we know so far – the guide

A terrorist attack hit a pop concert in Manchester on Monday evening. Here is what we know so far:

Manchester attack: Trump calls attackers "losers"

What has happened?

  • Police have confirmed that at least 22 people were killed in the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. Some of them are children.
  • Officers said a further 59 people were injured amid reports of at least one explosion that hit the venue shortly after the concert finished.
  • Theresa May, the prime minister, confirmed the incident was a terrorist attack as she addressed cameras outside Downing Street. Police and security services believe they have identified the bomber, but no name has yet been announced, she said.
  • It is the deadliest terror attack to hit the UK since the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.
  • The first victim has been named as 18-year-old Georgina Callander, her school, Runshaw College, announced.
  • Police say their priority is to establish whether the killer was acting alone or part of a network.
  • The police say they believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated.
  • About 21,000 people are reported to have been at the concert at the time of the explosion.
  • Multiple witnesses said they heard an explosion, with one saying the blast shook the building, before “everyone screamed and tried to get out”.
  • A 23-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday morning in south Manchester, the police said. The Arndale Centre shopping mall was evacuated and a man was arrested there but this is unconnected to the attacks, the police said.

Where did it happen?

  • Manchester Arena said the incident took place “outside the venue in a public space”.
  • The blast was reported to have hit the foyer of the building at about 10:30pm, British Transport police said.
Where the blast took place
  • Victims have been taken to eight hospitals across the Manchester area.
  • Large parts of the city around the arena have been sealed off. Victoria station has been closed and is expected to be closed throughout Tuesday.
  • Police have asked the public to avoid Manchester city centre as they continued to work in the area.
  • Police have carried out a controlled explosion in the Cathedral Gardens area but the item destroyed was not suspicious.

The reactions so far

  • Theresa May has said her thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”. In a televised appearance outside 10 Downing Street, she attacked the “appalling, sickening cowardice” of the bombing.
  • The home secretary, Amber Rudd, described the bombing as a “barbaric attack” that targeted “young people, children out at a pop concert”.
  • May chaired a meeting of the Cobra government emergency committee at 9am and will attend another later today. She will travel to Manchester to meet the chief constable, mayor and emergency services, she said.
  • Manchester’s new mayor, Andy Burnham, who attended the Cobra meeting via video link, said there would be a vigil in Albert Square on Tuesday evening.
  • The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, have expressed their sympathies for the victims.
  • The US president, Donald Trump, gave a statement from his trip to Israel in which he called the attackers “evil losers”.
  • General election campaigning has been suspended.
  • The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said additional police would be on duty in London throughout the weekend.
  • Police have issued a number for people to call if they are concerned about relatives or loved ones: +44 0161 856 9400

Manchester attack: Trump calls attackers “losers”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed those behind the Manchester attack as “losers” and reiterated his call to drive out terrorists.

Manchester attack: Trump calls attackers "losers"

“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families, of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” Trump said, in his first comment on the Monday night attack at a concert Manchester, England.

Monday’s attack outside an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena killed at least 22 people, including children, and was carried out by a lone suspect carrying a bomb, Manchester Police said.

While police believe the suspect was acting alone, investigations are ongoing to establish if he was part of a network.
Trump said: “So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are.”
“They’re losers, and we’ll have more of them, but they’re losers, just remember that,” he added.
Trump delivered his remarks alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where the two men met to advance peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abbas also expressed his “warm condolences” to the victims of the attack and to the British people.
Trump called on all countries to unite in the fight against terrorism and proclaimed: “This wicked ideology must be obliterated.”
“Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed. We cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people. And in today’s attack it was mostly innocent children. The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever,” Trump said.
As many as 400 police were deployed overnight, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said early Tuesday. He added that residents should expect to see more armed officers on the streets.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity,” he said.
If confirmed as a terror incident, it would be the deadliest attack on British soil since the 2005 London bombings, which killed 52 people.

Herdsmen attack Niger state: death toll hit 29

The Niger State Emergency Management Agency has said death in the attack at Epogi community in the Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger has risen to 29.


Director General of SEMA, Mr Ibrahim Inga, told reporters on Tuesday in Minna that 21 people were killed during the attack while three bodies were recovered from a river.

He added that three other victims died at the Federal Medical Centre, Bida.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalled that 21 people were killed on May 14 when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen invaded the community.

Inga said the gunmen stormed the community at about 6am when Muslims were having their morning prayers in a mosque and killed 21 on the spot.

  • Want to get Bloomgist news in your inbox for free? Fill the spaces

He explained that there was an argument between one Alhaji Yakubu Yuguda, a herdsman who came to settle on a portion of land in the community, and some members of the community in 2016.

Inga said further that in the ensuing argument, a boy was killed and the matter was reported to the police, leading to the arrest of Yuguda, who was later released.

He said that after the incident, the community enjoyed relative peace until May 14, when the village was attacked.

The director-general disclosed that the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr Ahmed Ketso, had visited the community and condoled with the victims.

He said an assessment had been carried out by SEMA to provide relief materials to victims, adding that normalcy had returned to the community.

Inga called on members of the community to return to their homes as security operatives had been deployed in the area.

Meanwhile, five persons were killed and six other injured in suicide attacks on Konduga, a town in Borno State, the police said on Tuesday.

The police, in a statement by its spokesman in Borno State, Victor Isuku, a deputy superintendent of police, said the incident occurred at about 9:30pm on Monday.

He revealed that the attacks were by three female suicide bombers who all lost their lives in the incident that also claimed two other lives and injured six others.

The statement read, “Information received from the District Police Officer Konduga, is that on 15/5/17 at about 21:30hrs, three female suicide bombers detonated IED strapped on their bodies at Shuwa settlement of Mandarari ward, Konduga, killing themselves and two others.”

Three female suicide bombers killed near Military outpost in Maiduguri

Again suicide bombers struck last night May 3, 2017, at 10.05pm in Maiduguri, Borno State.

Boko Haram3

The three female teenage suicide bombers attempted to attack a military outpost popularly known as “Guantanamo” along Muna garage.

After being sighted by the troops in their desperate attempt to gain access to the premises, the bombers were shot leading to the explosion of their concealed IEDs.

The spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the North-East, Abdulkadir Ibrahim confirmed that the corpses of suicide bombers were evacuated by joint NEMA/BOSEMA Emergency Response teams.

Abdulkadir stated that one security personnel who was injured in the attack is currently receiving treatment.

SOURCE: The Bloomgist/NEMA/Sahara Reporters