Surviving the Terror Attack

A few minutes past 3pm yesterday, a Miss Rachel sent out a tweet.

At only eight words long, the tweet appeared hurried, yet blunt and distressing.

"WE ARE UNDER ATTACK AT 14 RIVERSIDE DRIVE," she wrote. 

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She immediately followed the tweet with two other equally worrying ones. The first one read: "All we ask for is prayers guys." The second one read: "In hiding."

Rachel did not tweet again until 5:49pm when she tweeted to announce to thousands of users who were following that she was safe. "We have been rescued. Thank you for your prayers," she tweeted.

Testimonies from witnesses and survivors of yesterday's terrorist attack at dusitD2 Hotel Complex on 14 Riverside Drive in Nairobi's Westlands say the attack started some moments before Rachel sent out the first tweet, minutes shy of 3.30pm.

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A hotel attendant said he had just checked in guests when he heard a bang.

Mark Matunga, who works at an office at the hotel complex, told a TV station he first heard an explosion at around 3.20pm. The explosion later turned out to be a bomb, which, according to the survivors, exploded in a car that was parked next to a security check barrier. The explosion was followed by gunshots.

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Dr Matunga, together with a handful other occupants, were among the first to safely leave the besieged building.

"We used the stairs and escaped using a rear exit," he told the TV station.

A vendor, who runs a shop just outside 14 Riverside Drive, told KTN News the car suspected to have been used in the attack was seen near the hotel four times before the explosions began.

During the attack, desperate survivors hid in all manner of places, waiting and praying that they would make it out of the building alive. A hotel attendant and his colleagues huddled in one room and from there called the police.

“They (police) told us to switch off the lights and stay calm,” he said.

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They were rescued hours later.

Another male survivor said he hid under a car in the parking lot on the seventh floor of one of the buildings, while another female survivor and three of her friends said they hid in cabinets.

Another female survivor said she saw one body as she fled the scene, while another said the terrorists were hunting down their victims from door to door.

"I could only hear footsteps and gunshots," he said.

Meanwhile, social media users yesterday castigated Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko for his "silence" and absence at the attack scene as soon as it happened.

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A county representative, however, claimed that the governor was in Nairobi and that he was "monitoring the situation".

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