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Explosives, rifles used at DusitD2 raid where 25 people lost lives

Dusit D2 terrors suspect, Salim Gichunge. [File, Standard]

Victims who perished in the DusitD2 complex attack in Nairobi bore gunshot wounds majorly to the head while others had injuries indicating they were killed by explosives.

While lifting the veil on what happened on January 15, 2019, government pathologist Dr Richard Njoroge detailed a gruesome aftermath by attackers.

Some bodies could not be identified without DNA tests as they were disjointed, Njoroge said before Kahawa magistrate Diana Mochache.

The witness was testifying Monday in a case where Mire Abdullahi, Hussein Mohammed, and Mohamed Ali are accused of committing acts of terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism acts and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.

The pathologist took the court through autopsy reports that were prepared at Chiromo and City mortuaries.

He first identified the cause of death of 20 victims who were identified by families and friends. 

From the testimony in court, the number of those who perished in the hands of terrorists could have been at least 25. The court heard that the first victim had gunshot wounds on the shoulder and a fractured knee. The conclusion was that she died out of multiple gunshot wounds.

The second one, a 34-year-old, had a gunshot wound at the back of the chest while the third one, also female, also had gunshot wounds.

There were at least five victims whose cause of death was explosive injuries.

A ballistics expert told the court that guns suspected to have been used by the attackers were from Hungary and China.

Chief Inspector Mudindi Mwandawiro said the serial numbers of the five firearms that were brought to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for forensic examinations indicated they were Hungarian AK47 rifles and Chinese made

A bearing ball was also part of the evidence, indicating there must have been a grenade used in the attack. “Ball bearings are in grenades. They act as bullets when the grenade explodes.”

The DusitD2 attack was carried out on a significant date, coinciding with the third anniversary of al-Shabaab’s overrunning of a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) base in El Adde, Gedo region.

Kenya detailed how the plan started with 22 calls from a number in Somalia to the suicide bomber, Mahir Khalid Riziki, who would then travel from Somalia to Elwak town on January 11, 2019.

At the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Kenya outlined how the attack was planned, the terrorists’ movements, and the escape of one of the key operatives, Violet Wanjiru, alias Kemunto, back to Somalia.

Riziki, who was born on February 5, 1993, in Majengo, Mombasa, was the longest-serving member of al-Shabaab in the attack group and was the designated suicide bomber.

 DusitD2 complex Mahir Khalid Riziki designated suicide bomber. [File, Standard]

In 2014, he was said to have formed an assassination cell in Mombasa, which was tasked by the militant group to assassinate security personnel. Court documents showed he was involved in the killing of a police officer at the Royal Court Hotel in Mombasa in October 2014 before he fled to Tanzania a month later.

The State then traced him to Somalia in 2015 when he called his family and informed them that he was undergoing training by al-Shabaab.

The government said he was radicalised in a Mombasa mosque that has long been associated with recruitment for al-Shabaab and religious violence.

On January 11, 2019, he crossed into Kenya and activated a Kenyan phone registered in the name of ‘Hibo Ahmed’ that morning, and immediately placed a call to Somalia.

At 6.21pm, Riziki placed his first call to the man who became the DusitD2 second attacker, as well as his cell leader, Ali Salim Gichunge. He then arrived at the safe house in Muchatha, Kiambu, later in the evening.

“Except for his Somali contact and Gichunge, Riziki placed calls to only one other number from the time he entered Kenya until his death four days later, thereby limiting his exposure to Kenyan security forces,” the government said.

He exchanged 11 phone calls with Gichunge, including a final 91-second call. Riziki blew himself up while standing outside Secret Garden restaurant within the DusitD2 complex in Nairobi.

The government said Gichunge managed to escape security officers’ radar for long as he only communicated with his Somalia contacts online, and would switch off his mobile phone whenever he met with his associates.

“Gichunge was highly conscious of the security of communications; for instance, he never contacted Somalia by phone – only using Facebook – turned his phone off when he travelled to meet associates, and spoke to Riziki only on a dedicated phone line.”

He communicated with al-Shabaab co-ordinators in Jilib, Somalia. He was also the link to funds used to organise the attack and the money came from al-Shabaab operatives in Mandera.

The co-ordinator in Mandera is identified as Yussuf Ali Adan in the court filings while the second attacker is listed as Osman Ibrahim.

One unknown attacker is said to have made 81 calls to and from Somalia. The mystery person, presumed to be of Somali origin, activated a Kenyan number in Dadaab refugee camp.