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Regretful Brexit backers lobby for another vote

LONDON: Britons who have changed their minds since voting to leave the European Union in 2016 are among those uniting to call for another chance to reverse the decision. These ‘Remainer now’ voters, former Brexit supporters, are adding their voices to the chorus of calls for a second referendum amid political paralysis in Britain over the issue. Gary Maylin, 38, from Norwich in eastern England, said he originally backed leaving the bloc after more than four decades of membership because he “wanted sovereignty for the UK”. He recalled facing a barrage of pro-Brexit sentiment at the time which influenced his choice. UK PM May survives confidence vote after Brexit humiliation “My MP was (pro-)Leave, all the arguments I heard were for Leave,” he told source. “So I decided the EU was to blame for a lot of the things that were going wrong — the inability of our government to control our destiny.” The world’s fifth-largest economy is in political turmoil and grasping for solutions that could smooth its planned departure from the bloc just 10 weeks from now. British Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to put together a new Brexit strategy after MPs rejected her EU divorce deal, but admitted on Thursday that she can not rule out a potentially damaging ‘no-deal’ split. Maylin was among 51.9 per cent of voters to support leaving the bloc in the nationwide referendum two and-a-half years ago, trumping the 48.1 per cent who went for Remain. But he says he would now ‘absolutely’ vote the other way. “I’ve come to appreciate that we are not going to… succeed as a nation on our own,” Maylin explained, adding “walking away isn’t working for us”. “We really benefit from being strong as a united Europe rather than independent as a country,” he said, pointing to everything from US President Donald Trump to the continued rise of China. How Europe reacted to Brexit deal defeat Earlier this week, Maylin joined a dozen or so other Brexit converts who headed to Westminster, the epicentre of political power, to tell British MPs why they now want another referendum. The meeting was organised by ‘RemainerNow’, an initiative launched by a Europhile, Andrew Davidson, in his spare time with a presence online. Davidson was left ‘disturbed’ by the 2016 result and spurred into action by meeting regretful Brexit voters. “There was so many people both in my personal life but also I’ve seen on social media or TV that had regrets over their Leave vote,” he said. His movement is hopeful of seeing a second vote — repeatedly rejected by the government — as opinion polls show a majority would now support Remain. A recent compilation of surveys by the non-partisan organisation ‘What UK Thinks: EU’ found 54 per cent now favour staying in. Brexiteers have argued that such polls — which showed Leave would narrowly lose in 2016 — consistently ignores harder-to-reach Brexit supporters and are inaccurate. But people’s fears over the economic impact of leaving the bloc are real, according to pollsters. “If you voted Leave but you now think that the economy will suffer as a result, your chances of voting leaving again come down to about 50 per cent or so,” John Curtice, one of Britain’s leading survey experts, told source. Christopher Oram, from the southwestern English county of Dorset, is another former Brexit supporter who believes he was lulled into the wrong decision. “We had the MPs who were saying that we could have our cake and eat it,” Oram said, noting campaign promises of money saved, easy trade deals and a prosperous future. “Then I heard that we were going to leave the single market and custom unions so, again, I’m in shock,” added the 28-year-old. “All the promises were broken.” Those who have lost faith in Brexit revealed it had not been easy sharing news of their switch with friends and family who have stayed loyal to the cause. Maylin said he has been harassed on social media, while Oram quarrelled with his best friend over the issue. “He still thinks that we should be leaving, so that causes a lot of tensions between myself and him,” he said. “Our partners have now said that we’re not allowed to talk about Brexit over the dinner table any more.” Other friends have shunned Oram in response. “I find upsetting that people don’t accept… I have the right to change my mind,” he added.

LONDON: Britons who have changed their minds since voting to leave the European Union in 2016 are among those uniting to call for another chance to reverse the decision. These ‘Remainer now’ voters, former Brexit supporters, are adding their voices to the chorus of calls for a second referendum amid political paralysis in Britain over the issue. Gary Maylin, 38, ... Read More »

Russia detains model claiming Trump secrets

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, sources told . Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen-name Nastya Rybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport on Thursday evening after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a “sex training course,” other passengers on the flight told source. Russian authorities detained her and several others including Alex Kirillov, a self-styled Russian seduction guru, witnesses said. Plain-clothes officials led away four of the group including Vashukevich and Kirillov, a woman who gave her name as Kristina told source after emerging at Sheremetyevo airport arrivals. Describing herself as Kirillov’s wife, Kristina said she heard the group shouting and asking for an explanation of “why they were being detained” and saying they were suspected of recruiting for prostitution, a crime punishable by up to six years in jail. A law enforcement source told TASS state news agency that four including Vashukevich and Kirillov were detained at the airport over recruiting for prostitution. Model claiming Trump secrets deported from Thailand Vashukevich was held with several others in a police raid last February in the sleazy seaside resort of Pattaya. In a case that veered between salacious and bizarre, Vashukevich said she had travelled to Thailand after becoming embroiled in a political scandal with Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska — a one-time associate of Trump’s disgraced former campaign director Paul Manafort. She then set tongues wagging by promising to reveal “missing puzzle pieces” regarding claims the Kremlin aided Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. But the material never surfaced and critics dismissed the claims as a publicity stunt. In the risque Pattaya seminar led by Kirillov, some participants wore shirts that said “sex animator” — though one person at the time described it as more of a romance and relationship course. Vashukevich pleaded guilty alongside seven others to multiple charges, including solicitation and illegal assembly at a Pattaya court on Tuesday, which ordered the group be deported. Kirillov, who has served as a quasi-spokesman for the mostly Russian group, told reporters as they arrived at court Tuesday that he believed they were set up. Model claiming to know Trump secrets arrested for running ‘sex training course’ “I think somebody ordered (our arrest)… for money,” he said. Vashukevich looked sombre as she entered the courthouse and did not respond to questions from the media. On Thursday afternoon, Vashukevich and the majority of the convicted were put on an Aeroflot flight for Moscow, bringing to an end the Thai side of a baffling case. Thailand’s immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said the last of the group would leave the country later that evening. They were also blacklisted from returning to Thailand. It was unclear what would happen to them on arrival in Moscow but as a Belarusian citizen, Vashukevich was expected to transit to Belarus. Vashukevich, who has more than 120,000 followers on Instagram and penned a book about seducing oligarchs, already faces legal problems in Russia. Deripaska won an invasion of privacy lawsuit against her and Kirillov in July after a video apparently filmed by the model showed the tycoon vacationing with an influential Russian deputy prime minister at the time. “I don’t think she wants to get out in Moscow,” a Russian friend in Thailand who helped with the case told source on Thursday. Both Washington and Moscow publicly shrugged off Vashukevich’s story, which the US State Department described as “bizarre”. Kremlin-connected Deripaska and Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, did business together in the mid-2000s. Manafort has since been convicted in the US of financial crimes related to political work he did in Ukraine before the 2016 election as well as witness tampering.

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, sources told . Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen-name Nastya Rybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport on Thursday evening after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a ... Read More »

Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, Remains safe after crashing into vehicle

Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip emerged safe after a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic accident results two people injured near the monarch's Sandringham Estate Thursday, according to Buckingham Palace and police. “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon,” a palace spokesman said. “The Duke was not injured. The accident took place close to the Sandringham Estate. Local police attended the scene.” A palace spokeswoman confirmed to Britain's Press Association that the duke was driving, alongside a passenger in the vehicle, when the accident happened. The agency said it was likely the duke was travelling with his close protection officer. Norfolk Police said officers were called to the estate shortly before 3pm (1500 GMT) “following reports of a collision involving two cars”. A spokesman added that ambulance crews also attended and two people in one of the vehicles suffered minor injuries. The royal couple spend most of the winter at the residence in Norfolk, south east England, which continues to operate as a sporting estate. Philip, known for his forthright manner and off-colour jokes, formally retired from public life in 2017. Born a prince of Greece and Denmark, he married then princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey in London. On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, she said of him: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip emerged safe after a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic accident results two people injured near the monarch’s Sandringham Estate Thursday, according to Buckingham Palace and police. “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon,” a palace spokesman said. “The Duke was not ... Read More »

Novel based on Jew ‘catcher’ Stella Kübler stirs controversy

It tells the fictionalized true story of a woman who gave up her fellow Jews to the Nazis. Critics have condemned the novel Stella by Takis Würger, published this week in Germany, as "Holocaust kitsch." "We have a new literature debate," wrote Hannah Lühmann of the Die Welt newspaper when reflecting on the bombshell publication of Stella, a novel by journalist, author and war correspondent Takis Würger. Published by the prestigious Hanser Verlag on January 11, Stella fictionalizes the true story of Jewess Stella Kübler (née Goldschlag), who as a so-called "catcher" betrayed other Jews gone underground to the Gestapo. 'Nazi story for dummies?' Würger's second novel was inspired by the award-winning journalist's fascination for the subject. But while it's too early to judge the success of this study of a character who is already a book subject — for example, Peter Wyden's Stella: One Woman's True Tale of Evil, Betrayal, and Survival in Hitler's Germany — the vehement response to the novel by German critics has been striking. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reviewer wrote on January 11 that Stella is "an outrage, an insult and a real offense." Moreover, the work was described as "the symbol of an industry that seems to have lost any ethical or aesthetic scale if it wants to sell such a book as a valuable contribution to the memory of the Shoah." The critic further accused the author of having written the novel "without any awareness of the problem of literature, literacy and history." A reviewer for Die Zeit was equally scathing. "An abomination in children's book style: Takis Würger writes in Stella about a Jewish woman who becomes an accomplice in the Nazi era. It's a novel full of narrative clichés." Public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk described it as "Holocaust kitsch" and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked: "Why this Nazi story for dummies?" Publishers weigh in Florian Kessler, cultural journalist and editor at Hanser Verlag, deflected the criticism on social media. In a detailed Facebook post, he responded, among other things, to the allegation by the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the novel would instrumentalize the Holocaust. "One can only answer: this discussion … rightly pervades the literature since '45," he wrote of a debate that has raged around so-called Holocaust literature in the postwar period. Kessler noted that Bernhard Schlink's novel The Reader, which became a hit Hollywood film, was also accused in the 1990s of mixing clichés and Holocaust instrumentalization. Shortly thereafter, he read the book at school in class.\ "We also talked about such allegations against it, and through the book's ambivalences and problems, we had very important and formative discussions about the Nazi period in my entire school years," he wrote. Read more: Holocaust satirist Elgar Hilsenrath dies at 92 Let the public decide Hannah Lühman of Die Welt was also surprised by the ferocity of the critical slating. But while she defended the novel as a whole, she added that many questions of course remain regarding, for example, "the choice of historical material; this extreme story of a Jewish woman who has betrayed hundreds of Jews to the Gestapo; what fantasies it may satisfy among non-Jewish Germans reading it." But she refused, according to Lühmann in his Facebook post, "to join in this scandal." It remains to be seen how the reading public will respond to Stella. Interest has been high in Germany, with the book launch and author reading in Hamburg on Monday sold out weeks in advance. And the novel has already garnered international attention: So far, nine foreign licenses have been sold, with the book set to be published in English, French, Spanish and Chinese, among others.

It tells the fictionalized true story of a woman who gave up her fellow Jews to the Nazis. Critics have condemned the novel Stella by Takis Würger, published this week in Germany, as “Holocaust kitsch.” “We have a new literature debate,” wrote Hannah Lühmann of the Die Welt newspaper when reflecting on the bombshell publication of Stella, a novel by ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Five major Rückrunde talking points

With the tides turning, the 2018/19 campaign is gearing up to be a defining one for the Bundesliga. At the halfway stage, DW looks at the big questions set to be answered in the second half of the season. With its reputation enhanced thanks to entertainment value alone, the tides are turning in the Bundesliga. No longer is Bayern Munich's dominance the only talking point on the front pages of newspapers and websites around the world. Read more: Bundesliga 2018/19 half-time review Ahead of the start of the second half of the season, DW takes a look at five major questions being asked heading into the Rückrunde of the most pulsating campaigns of the last decade.… Do we have ourselves a Bundesliga title race? Not to be too like the meme of Rose from Titanic, but it seems like an age since we last had a competitive Bundesliga title race. Bayern's title-winning exploits have been impressive, but have only stoked the fires of those hoping to see them fail in their bid for a seventh-straight Meisterschale Unlike the last six seasons, Niko Kovac's side aren't league leaders at the halfway stage of the campaign. Borussia Dortmund took that honor as their brand of football sent pulses racing, whilst thrusting them into the role of heroic protagonist against the Bavarians' tyrannous hegemony. While Gladbach and Leipzig are keeping things interesting, hopes are being pinned on BVB. Their six-point cushion needs to be protected ahead of Der Klassiker in Munich on matchday 28 - a crucial game for keeping their title hopes, and the title race, alive. Read more: Uli Hoeness is no longer fit for Bayern Munich Can the Bundesliga keep the floodgates open? From Luka Jovic's five-goal haul against Düsseldorf to Fortuna's Dodi Lukebakio becoming the first player to ever score a Bundesliga hat-trick against Manuel Neuer, the first half of the season was riddled with goals and their subsequent storylines. The last time six sides had 30 goals or more to their name after Matchday 17 was the 2013/14 campaign – eight sides achieved the feat that season – this season Dortmund lead the way with 44. With just eight of a possible 153 games ending goalless, Germany's top flight boasted no less than 3.04 goals per game in the Hinrunde, which puts it top in terms of goals-per-game amongst Europe's top five leagues. If that's not entertainment value, then what is? More of the same, please! Read more: 2018/19 January transfer window overview How big a role will rising stars play? Germany's top flight has always been a place where rising prospects have been able to realize their potential at an early age. Even by Bundesliga standards, this season has been rich in under-21s rising to the occasion. Luka Jovic's goalscoring exploits have been jaw-dropping, Kai Havertz is operating at "level 29” – significantly higher than most of his Leverkusen teammates – and Reiss Nelson and Jadon Sancho have captured the attention of the English press, which speaks volumes. With the likes of Alphosno Davies, Josh Sargent and maybe Callum Hudson-Odoi ready to burst onto the scene, the impact of youth is not likely to diminish and there are plenty of headlines left to be grabbed. Is Lewandowski's Torjägerkanone crown at risk? Absolutely. Robert Lewandowski is one of five players to have broken double digits in the first half of the season, but he trails the league leaders Paco Alcacer and the aforementioned Jovic by two. Competition has brought the best out of the Pole in the past – reference his reaction to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's efforts – and he's going to need to be on the top of his game given the rate at which some of his fiercest rivals are scoring at. It would be quite something if Alcacer (42 minutes per goal) and Jovic (84) went a whole season needing less than 90 minutes per goal. Whose head will be the next to roll? Tayfun Korkut and Heiko Herrlich were the only head coaches to be shown the door before the winter break, but more heads will undoubtedly roll before the campaign's conclusion. The relegation battle looks set to be fierce this season and, while Hannover and Nürnberg are at risk of falling adrift, plenty of coaches could find themselves in the hot seat. Domenico Tedesco is amongst the bookies favorites and you've got to think, if the Royal Blues form doesn't improve and quickly, he may not be able to hold onto the reigns much longer.

With the tides turning, the 2018/19 campaign is gearing up to be a defining one for the Bundesliga. At the halfway stage, DW looks at the big questions set to be answered in the second half of the season. With its reputation enhanced thanks to entertainment value alone, the tides are turning in the Bundesliga. No longer is Bayern Munich’s ... Read More »

Germany launches its Bauhaus centenary

Throughout 2019, hundreds of events will celebrate the legacy of the Bauhaus school of design. German President Steinmeier kicked off the centennial by honoring the great minds driving the major cultural movement. The Bauhaus is “one of the most important and worldwide most effective cultural achievements of our country,” said Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday, at the event kicking ... Read More »

Sweden to end months without a government

Stockholm has been trapped in deadlock, with no party wanting to govern with the far-right Sweden Democrats. Social Democrat PM Stefan Lofven is set to retain his post by promising to bring his party to the right. Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on Wednesday and allow Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to take a second term in office. The Left party said it would abstain in a crucial vote on Friday, clearing the way for Lofven and his patchwork coalition. Lofven, leader of the Social Democrats, has been leading a caretaker government since elections on September 9 yielded inconclusive results. Although the Social Democrats won the most votes, their 31.1 percent support left them grappling to form a coalition in a country with eight mainstream parties and proportional representation. These problems were compounded by the fact that most other parties wanted to govern without the support of the Left and the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are rooted in Norwegian white supremacist circles. But the Social Democrats have managed to pull together an unusual union of the left and right wing by gaining the support of the Greens, Liberals, and the Center party. In doing so, however, Lofven has had to promise to take his traditional center-left party to the right. "Sweden needs a government," said Lofven, adding that he was "humbled to have been nominated" for Friday's vote. With the Left party abstaining from the vote, Lofven was pretty much guaranteed success. However, the leftists have warned that they would vote down the new government if the prime minister went forward with reforms on the labor law and rent hikes for newly-built homes

Stockholm has been trapped in deadlock, with no party wanting to govern with the far-right Sweden Democrats. Social Democrat PM Stefan Lofven is set to retain his post by promising to bring his party to the right. Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on Wednesday and allow Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to take a second ... Read More »

Body of missing German tourist found in Australia

Police in Australia have found the body of a Cologne resident who was reported missing on January 8. Authorities have said the woman was found in the Outback, near Alice Springs. Authorities in Australia's Northern Territory (NT) have found the body of a German tourist reported missing on January 8. Workers at Desert Palm Resort, where 62-year-old Cologne resident Monika Billen had been staying, notified police three days after the woman failed to check out and board her January 5 flight to Darwin. Authorities searched for the woman for two weeks before initially halting their efforts. The search, however, was resumed after police were given information by telephone carriers. That information allowed authorities to narrow the area of their search, for which they used aircraft and drones. Read more: Missing German backpacker survives Australian Outback on diet of bugs In a statement, NT Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said that the search: "has required extensive work, interpreting data from both international and national phone providers, but the outcome assisted in narrowing down the search parameters and eventually locating Ms Billen. It is deeply upsetting that we have to tell her family this sad news, but we are relieved to be able to provide them with answers." Billen's family had sent a heartrending letter to the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) begging for any assistance locals could provide to locate the woman one day before her body was eventually found Little protection against sweltering heat In the letter, the family wrote, "We have been consumed with worry ever since we heard of Monika's disappearance, especially because we know her as a very responsible and capable person." They feared that she may have been the victim of foul play. Billen's body was found under a tree near the popular hiking area of Emily's Gap outside Alice Springs, in Australia's Northern Territory. The area is known for its deep gorges, rocky ravines and sweltering heat, which often reaches more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Read more: Rescue crews save three Australian men stuck on outback's Uluru rock Billen, an avid traveler and hiker, mentioned the heat in a December 31 e-mail to her family, the last they received: "In the heat I take more or less extensive walks in the surroundings of Alice Springs in Central Australia. Somehow the heat fits well with the landscape … I took a picture from the [Olive Pink] botanical garden lookout hill, which is near my accommodations and offers plenty of shady places to sit, dream and read." Police say that Billen was only carrying a cashmere scarf with her as protection from the heat.

Police in Australia have found the body of a Cologne resident who was reported missing on January 8. Authorities have said the woman was found in the Outback, near Alice Springs. Authorities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) have found the body of a German tourist reported missing on January 8. Workers at Desert Palm Resort, where 62-year-old Cologne resident Monika ... Read More »

Kenya terror attack highlights security challenges

Kenya terror attack highlights security challenges Kenya's security agencies are under scrutiny following the latest attack on a hotel compound. Analysts say it's a sign that al-Shabab is still very much a force to be reckoned with. The latest terror attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi has once again drawn attention to the security situation in Kenya. In particular, the extent to which Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab has infiltrated the country and evaded security agencies. Tuesday's attack came three years to the day after al-Shabab militants attacked a Kenyan military base in neighboring Somalia, killing over 100 troops. In 2015 extremists stormed Garissa University College in Kenya's North Eastern Province, killing 148 people. The last attack linked to al-Shabab in central Nairobi occurred back in 2013 at Westgate shopping mall, resulting in 71 deaths, including the four gunmen. Each of these events resulted in changes to the way the government carried out counterterrorism activities and led to increased monitoring of the porous Kenya-Somalia border. So what does the latest attack mean for the security situation in Kenya? Kenya's counterterrorism strategy under scrutiny The Kenyan government has been recognized for its relatively successful counterterrorism strategy, especially when it came to curtailing al-Shabab fighters attempting to cross into Kenya from Somalia. So Tuesday's terror attack was largely unexpected. "People thought that the security agencies were on top of things, so it really is a surprise to many people," Emmanual Kisiangani, a Nairobi-based political analyst, told DW. Kenya significantly increased security spending in 2015 and also implemented a decentralization process which allocated more power to the region and local levels with the aim of better tracking extremists within the country. Kisiangani thinks Kenya's security agencies have done relatively well in preventing major attacks up until this point. "It's a very difficult thing to prevent these attacks totally," he says. "They say that the security agencies always need to be right, but terrorists only need to be right once. In between, the security agencies have certainly preempted many similar attacks, including one about a year ago which could have been quite dramatic." The fact that al-Shabab has been referred to as "weakening" by governments, security agencies and the media in recent months may have also spurred on the group to carry out as dramatic an attack as possible. "We have had a few instances where we think al-Shabab is extremely weak and on the brink of being annihilated," says Kisiangani. "Then they want to prove that they are still strong. Every time people think that they are [weak], they try and do something to send out a message that they still have the capacity to cause harm." Stig Jarle Hansen, an expert on African jihadists at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, thinks the fact that the attack took place in the heartland of Kenya, rather than along the border zone, will be a wake-up call for Kenyan security forces. "Al-Shabab did something that was unexpected in many ways," he told DW. "But when it comes to their modus operandi, it's rather typical [for them]…We've seen it before at Westgate and we've seen it in Mogadishu as well." Al-Shabab reaches into Kenya Al-Shabab has been active in Somalia since civil war broke out in 2006. Since then, the jihadist militant group has carried out numerous deadly attacks in the region despite a number of major losses thanks to the combined efforts of the Kenyan, Somalian and US militaries. But recruitment by al-Shabab of Kenyans — the majority of whom are young, disillusioned and from the country's poorest neighborhoods —remains one of the biggest challenges for security forces. Kenya's military is leading a large-scale operation in the Boni National Reserve near the border with Somalia, hoping to push al-Shabab militants back across the border, and preventing them from reaching out to sympathizers inside Kenya.

Kenya’s security agencies are under scrutiny following the latest attack on a hotel compound. Analysts say it’s a sign that al-Shabab is still very much a force to be reckoned with. The latest terror attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi has once again drawn attention to the security situation in Kenya. In particular, the extent to which Somalia-based extremist ... Read More »

At least five dead in attack on luxury hotel in Nairobi

At least five people were killed when a suicide bomber and gunmen stormed an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, in the Kenyan capital on Tuesday. Gunshots rang out sporadically as night fell in Nairobi, where police combed the hotel and outlying office buildings for survivors while trying to flush out the attackers. The attack at the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, restaurant and office buildings housing local and international companies, began at 3pm (1200 GMT) with a massive explosion heard five kilometres (three miles) The Al-Qaeda linked Somalian group Al-Shabaab, which carried out a notorious assault on a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013, claimed responsibility, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors militant activities. “We can now confirm that this criminal activity commenced at about three o'clock in a coordinated fashion and began at I&M Bank with an explosion that targeted three vehicles in the parking lot, and a suicide explosion in the foyer of Dusit hotel,” said Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet. He said “a number of guests suffered serious injuries” but did not give a figure for any fatalities. A photographer saw the bodies of five dead, slumped over tables on a restaurant terrace in the complex, while a police source who asked not to be named said he had seen as many as 14 dead. Elite police forces evacuated terrified workers barricaded in offices after an hour of sustained gunfire as they engaged the attackers. More than six hours after the attack it was unclear how many people were still hiding inside office buildings or the hotel, owned by Thai giant Dusit Thani Group. Simon Crump, who works in the complex, said terrified workers had barricaded themselves inside their offices after “several” explosions. “We have no idea what is happening. Gunshots are coming from multiple directions,” “A lot of people ran when the first few explosions happened, there was a mad rush for the exit,” he said. Boinnet said security forces had contained six of the seven floors of the hotel and were also working to secure “remaining outbuildings in the complex”. “There still could be armed criminals holed up at the building and our team of special forces are doing their best to flush them out, and all our critical national infrastructure remain on guard,” he said. 'A flash and a bang' John Maingi said there had been “a flash of lights and a loud bang” at the Secret Garden restaurant where he works. “When I peeped outside I saw a human leg which has been cut off. We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us,” he said. Shortly after the attack began flames and plumes of black smoke billowed into the sky from the parking lot where several cars where ablaze. Police sirens echoed through the city and two helicopters buzzed overhead while ambulances with flashing lights lined up outside the hotel. A private security guard at the scene told he had seen four “gangsters” entering the compound. Meanwhile, the vast upscale Village Market shopping centre in northern Nairobi said on Twitter that it had closed temporarily as a “security precaution.” Kenyan hospitals put out an urgent call for blood donations for the injured. Shabaab The attack at DusitD2 is the first in Nairobi since gunmen stormed the city's Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing at least 67 people. The attack and ensuing siege lasted around four days. That assault was also claimed by Somalia's Shabaab, who have been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu since 2007. The Westgate attack resulted in many upscale establishments and shopping centres in the capital -- including the Dusit — putting up strict security barriers checking vehicles and pedestrians. The Shabaab targeted Kenya after it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the militant group. On April 2, 2015, another Shabaab attack killed 148 people at the university in Garissa, eastern Kenya. In its statement, the Shabaab noted the attack came exactly three years after its fighters overran a Kenyan military base in Somalia. “This attack on Nairobi hotel came as Kenyans and their media are commemorating (the) El Adde attack,” it said. The Shabaab claimed more than 200 soldiers died in that assault, while the government has refused to give its own toll or disclose details of the attack.

At least five people were killed when a suicide bomber and gunmen stormed an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, in the Kenyan capital on Tuesday. Gunshots rang out sporadically as night fell in Nairobi, where police combed the hotel and outlying office buildings for survivors while trying to flush out the attackers. The attack at the DusitD2 compound, which includes ... Read More »

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