MarkRubens/iStock(NEW YORK) — An American was among more than a dozen killed when gunfire and explosions erupted at a high-end hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Department of State and those who knew him.
I-DEV International, a San Francisco-based strategy and investment advisory firm with an office in Kenya's capital, told ABC News on Wednesday that its founder and managing director Jason Spindler "was tragically among the fatalities."
A State Department official, who confirmed that an American was among the dead, condemned the "senseless act of violence" at the multi-use complex in Nairobi's affluent Westlands neighborhood, which includes the upscale DusitD2 hotel that's popular among foreigners. The American embassy in Nairobi is closely monitoring the incident and the State Department has offered assistance to local authorities, the official told ABC News.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at least 14 people were killed in Tuesday's attack.
"As of this moment, we have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost through the hands of these murderous terrorists, with others injured," Keyatta said in a broadcast Wednesday morning. "We are grieving as a country this morning, and my heart and the heart of every Kenyan, goes out to the innocent men and women violated by senseless violence."
Kenyan authorities said early Wednesday that all buildings within the complex have been secured and the operation to neutralize the assailants was over. Local authorities are calling the incident a terror attack.
"The security teams have evacuated scores of Kenyans and other nationalities from the buildings. We are now in the final stages of mopping up the area and securing evidence and documenting the consequences of these unfortunate events," Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang'i said during a press conference Tuesday night. "I can also report that the country is now secure, that the nation remains calm, that Kenyans and all of our visitors are safe and should feel free to continue getting about their normal businesses.
"The situation is under control, and the country is safe," Matiang'i added. "Terrorism will never defeat us."
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State told ABC News that "all mission personnel are safe and accounted for."
Kenya's Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a press statement that the attack began around 3 p.m. local time when a "group of armed assailants" stormed the gated complex in Westlands. An explosion targeted three vehicles in the parking lot and a suicide bomber detonated inside the hotel foyer, where a number of guests suffered severe injuries, according to Boinnet.
Video from the scene showed the cars ablaze and wounded people being carried away.
Kenya's National Police Service deployed officers to the scene to engage the attackers who were holed up inside the luxury hotel for hours. Meanwhile, the area was cordoned off as residents were screened and evacuated, Boinnet said.
Kenyan forces went floor by floor and building by building to secure the complex, according to Boinnet.
"Specialist forces are now currently flushing them out. However, we regret to inform that there have been injuries in the attack," the police inspector general told reporters in a statement Tuesday night.
The number of people who have been injured is unknown at this time.
"We urge the public to remain calm and to cooperate with all security forces and to provide any information that they may deem as useful," Boinnet added.
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