Raila, Kalonzo condemn attack, laud security forces

A woman cries in the arms of a relative in Nairobi, on January 16, 2019, while identifying the bodies of the victims after a blast followed by a gun battle that rocked the upmarket hotel complex. [AFP]
Political leaders, activists and tourism sector players yesterday condemned Tuesday's terrorist attack.

They also paid tribute to security forces for their swift response to the attack.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka and Governor Charity Ngilu (Kitui) said Kenya remained unbowed in the face of the terror attacks by Al Shabaab.

Speaking at his Capitol Hill offices, Raila condoled with the families that lost their loved ones.

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He also called on Kenyans to refuse to be divided on ethnic, religious and political lines as that was the terrorists' intention.

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible this dastardly act of cowardice perpetrated by enemies of human civilization. We commend our security forces for the robust, rapid and coordinated response to this evil that saw lives saved and the country reassured,” said Raila.

Raila said the country’s resolve to flush out terrorist elements within its borders remains strong, and appealed to Kenyans to be vigilant.

“Where we have closed ranks, terrorists try to plant fear and suspicion to create space for them to thrive. We must reject all such attempts. The terrorists who attacked us did not seek to know the tribe, religion, party affiliation or region of origin of the victims,” said Raila.

He lauded the international community for standing with Kenya in fighting terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

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“To the terrorist, take note that you shall never intimidate nor destroy the spirit of the people of Kenya by your beastly acts," he said.

"Kenya shall continue discharging its obligations to its citizens and commitment to the civilized community of nations without looking over its shoulders,” he said.

At the same briefing, Kalonzo while condoling with the victims said Kenyans must rise above hopelessness and despair.

"Terrorists inflict a sense of hopelessness into the people's minds so that we cannot continue with our normal daily lives. We must defeat the terrorists by rising above hopelessness and despair," said Kalonzo.

The Wiper Party leader asked the international community not to issue travel advisories against Kenya, saying the security forces have proved that they are professionals who can handle terror threats.

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"We thank the international community for standing by us. Terrorism is an international threat and we ask foreign nations not to issue travel advisories against visiting Kenya. The country is safe," he said.?

Governor Ngilu said Kenyans would not succumb to defeat.

"I condole with the families who have lost their loved ones and wish quick recovery to the injured. We will not be cowed into accepting defeat from terrorists. We must stand firm,"? she said.

In Parliament, National Assembly Committee on Security chaired by MP Paul Koinange condemned the terror attack, describing the attackers as “evil, bigoted and merciless.”

Koinange said the committee was ready to help the country’s security agencies by formulating necessary legal framework in the fight against corruption.

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Koinange, MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West) and Kabinga Wachira (Mwea) commended the security forces for moving swiftly to neutralise the attackers and rescue hundreds of survivors.

“We salute our police officers and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) for their swift action that helped save lives. We also salute fellow civilians for their assistance and cooperation during the rescue and evacuation mission," said Koinange.

The committee called for revamping of the Nyumba Kumi Initiative to assist in information-sharing between members of the public and security agencies.

Kolosh called on KDF to run over the militants' training grounds in Somalia.

More condemnation came from Greenpeace Africa Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi.

“Greenpeace Africa would like to express its compassion and solidarity to the victims of this tragedy, their relatives and friends. We share in the grief of all injured or those mourning their kin,” she said.

The organisation called on Kenyans to stand together to fight social and environmental injustices, and to root out terrorism. She paid tribute to everyone involved in the rescue operation. 

“We commend the courageous efforts of the security forces, the Kenya Red Cross, other ambulance support, hospitals and all those involved in the rescue operation. We urge all Kenyans to stay strong; this incident should not break our resilience,” said Ms Kabeberi.

From Mombasa, the African Tourism Board (ATB) released a statement extending its sympathy to families of attack victims.

“This is not only an attack on a luxury hotel in Nairobi, but an attempt to hurt the hard-working people and safe tourism industry. It’s an attack on African tourism. It’s a day when the civilized world should stand together," said ATB chairman, Juergen T. Steinmetz.

The board said Tuesday's attack could happen anywhere in the world.

"Unfortunately, no country or city in the world can be 100 per cent safe. Most attacks have happened in Europe and North America. One day it’s Boston, New York, or Las Vegas, the next day it’s Berlin, Paris, or Nice," said Steinmetz.

The board praised Kenya's handling of the attack and expressed its confidence with the security situation in the country.

"Kenya has shown resilience over the years and it has also shown leadership by becoming an example to the world when it comes to demonstrating not only concern for tourism safety, but also implementation," said the board.

“Remember the African Hotel Investment and Eco Tourism in 2013? I was impressed about safety measures in place in Nairobi that many other cities can only strive to achieve,'' he said.

The Coast Working Group also condoled with families of those who lost their lives and praised security forces swift response.

"We need to be extremely proud of our security forces and how they managed to contain the situation," said the group's chairperson, Hasnain Noorani.

He called on foreign visitors not to reschedule planned trips. 

"We need the world to stand in solidarity with Kenya at this time as we make the activities of the criminals worthless by ensuring that all travel plans progress," said Noorani.

Mombasa-based Haki Africa also weighed in, describing the attack as heinous and cowardly.

"Such attacks have no place in modern society and violate the rights of innocent people. As a human rights organisation, we recognise terrorism as one of the worst forms of human rights violation as it is normally directed at innocent persons who have no comprehension of terrorists' demands," said Executive Director Hussein Khalid.

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Opposition leader Raila OdingaKalonzo Musyoka14 riverside drive attack