13 people killed in terror attack at popular hotel in Mandera

Military tank patrols the sreets of Mandera county after a grenade exploded on 25th October, 2016. At least 12 people were confirmed dead and four injured in what is believed was Alshaabab attack . Picture;Adow Jubat

Thirteen people were yesterday killed in a dawn terror attack in Mandera that seemingly aimed at causing mass fatalities.

The terrorists, possibly aware that Bishaaro Guest House is frequented by locals, chose the silent hours of the night to launch the deadly assault that brought part of the building crumbling down.

Initial reports indicate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and hand-propelled grenades were used in the attack.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta has cancelled his trip to Angola following the Mandera attack to condole with the bereaved families.

State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the President will be represented by Deputy President William Ruto in the Security Summit kicking off today in Luanda, Angola.

In a statement from State House yesterday, President Kenyatta condemned the attack, saying the Government would do all in its power to bring the perpetrators to justice.

A survivor, who identified himself only as John Nyaga, said he was asleep in a nearby lodging room when he heard five huge explosions at around 2.20am.

“I was in my room and all of a sudden, I heard a huge explosion emanating from the direction of Bishaaro hotel. The attackers also exploded four more bombs, and I suspect that is when they were able to access the building,” said Nyaga.

He said the explosions were so huge that they shook the adjacent houses, including the one where he slept.

The witness said after the explosions, the attackers, who were about 20, started shooting. The gunfire lasted for about one hour.

“The sound of the gunshots was also powerful and one could tell they were fired from powerful firearms,” Nyaga said.

“I wondered why police could not respond immediately since they also heard the explosions.”

Sources said police ignored intelligence briefing prior to the attack.

“We were terrified and could not dare leave the rooms. After the shooting started, we could hear people screaming as others tried to escape to safety,” he added.

Nyaga said four people, one of them a woman, were injured and were admitted to Mandera County Hospital. He said some lucky survivors hid in a nearby timber store  while others managed to sneak out and run for their lives.

For Veronica Wambui Kabana, 22, making a trip to the Kenyan frontier was one of her wishes.

And when the opportunity came up for her and fellow thespians to travel to Mandera, she quietly told herself that the time to explore what other parts of the country offer had presented itself.


All went well when they arrived in the border town and for three weeks. Ms Kabana and her troupe were savouring Mandera until their dream stay was shattered in the wee hours of yesterday morning. She is one of the nine people who were rescued, after a five-hour siege.

The survivor said she was in Mandera on a trip to act schools’ literature set books for three weeks. She works with Pearls Quality Edutainment.

Veronica says they were aware of the danger in Mandera County but she never thought she would end up as a victim of terror.

“I am a survivor of terror. It was a close shave. I thank God that I am alive. It is by the grace of God I’m now breathing and I’m talking,” she said.

She suffered minor injuries as she was buried underneath the falling debris. She was rescued by KDF troops.

She said when the attack occurred, she was with her 10 colleagues, all of who survived.

Other witnesses said the assailants, who are reported to have been yelling Allah Akubar (God is great), raided the busy lodge near Rhamu bus stage, which is frequent by travellers and lower-class revellers.

North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said among the dead was a man from Oman.

The regional coordinator said the assailants lobbed the building with powerful explosives, which made the building to cave in, trapping those inside for several hours.

The administrator said three people were also rescued unhurt.

Saleh said immediately after the attack, security officers on patrol responded swiftly and engaged the attackers, who fled after being overpowered.

He said the security officers and the rescuers couldn’t access the partially collapsed building since it was dark and the lights were off in the entire town.