The aftermath of an attack on Tuesday in Mandera, Kenya. According to officials, a powerful bomb was detonated at a hotel when most guests were sleeping. CreditAssociated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — Islamist militants struck a hotel in northern Kenya on Tuesday morning, killing a dozen people and stoking outrage from Kenyans who accused their government of not doing enough to protect them from a relentless menace.
The Shabab, a Somali militant group, gleefully took responsibility, saying online that they had bombed the hotel to kill infidels and that all their fighters “came back to their positions safely after the operation.”
The attack happened at 3:30 a.m. at a hotel in Mandera, a town that sits at the absolute northeastern tip of Kenya. This month, Islamist militants killed six people there. Less than two years ago, Islamist militants slaughtered dozens of miners in the same area, separating the Christians from the Muslims and shooting the Christians in the head.
According to Kenyan officials, the militants detonated a powerful bomb at the hotel on Tuesday when most guests were sleeping. Part of the hotel collapsed, and at least 12 people died in the avalanche of concrete and rebar. Several others were seriously wounded.
“The population of Mandera needs to wake up from slumber and realize attacks are aimed at economic isolation,” the governor of Mandera, Ali Roba, said, according to Citizen TV in Kenya.
Kenya has been locked in a war against the Shabab for five years, part of a wider effort to dislodge the militant group from Somalia. The United States has also jumped in, with American Special Forces quietly expanding a covert war inside Somalia against the Shabab, with mixed results.
In recent years, the Shabab have lost several important cities, but at the same time, fighters continued to take over smaller towns and overrun heavily fortified African Union bases. Inside Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, Shabab assassins routinely kill government officials. On Monday, a top intelligence official was assassinated, with the killers melting away into the night.
On Tuesday morning, as news began to spread across Kenya about the attack in Mandera, people began to criticize the government response.
Another Kenyan, Muene, wrote on Twitter, “Kenyans being ambushed in Mandera but the President will just keep telling us that he has done his part and security starts with us.”
The Shabab seem to be on a tear. A few hours after the attack in Kenya, fighters rammed a car laden with explosives into the gates of an African Union base in central Somalia housing soldiers from Djibouti. The Shabab claimed to have killed more than 15 soldiers; the African Union did not disclose casualties.
An African Union spokesman said two Djiboutian soldiers and five others were wounded in the attack. Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, called Djibouti’s leader on Tuesday to express his condolences.