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Kenya says all gunmen killed in hotel attack; 14 victims

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s security forces have killed the Islamic extremist gunmen whose assault on a luxury hotel and shopping complex took 14 “innocent lives,” the country’s president said Wednesday.

“All the terrorists have been eliminated,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in announcing an end to the overnight operation to secure the complex in the capital, Nairobi.

In a televised address, Kenyatta did not say how many attackers were involved. He said more than 700 people were evacuated during the security operation and urged Kenyans to “go back to work without fear,” saying the East African country is safe.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard while scores of people were rescued at daybreak during what police called a “mopping-up” exercise. A new blast was heard in the afternoon as witnesses said security forces were making a sweep of the complex for any explosives.

Surveillance video showed the attack that began Tuesday afternoon involved at least four armed men.

Al-Shabab — the extremist group allied to al-Qaida and based in neighbouring Somalia — claimed responsibility for the carnage at the DusitD2 hotel complex, which includes bars, restaurants, offices and banks and is in Nairobi’s well-to-do Westlands neighbourhood with many foreign expatriates. Al-Shabab carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate Mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.

Most of the victims were Kenyans, a mortuary attendant said. The U.S. State Department confirmed that an American citizen was among the dead, and the company I-DEV International confirmed that its co-founder, Jason Spindler, had been killed. The British high commissioner in Kenya said at least one British national had been killed, without giving details.

Two local victims had been working on a fund to “bring peace and prosperity to Somalia through more than 100 local community initiatives,” the London-based Adam Smith International said of its employees.

Kenyan authorities sent special forces into the hotel to flush out the gunmen. Scores of people were rushed to safety in the early morning hours as explosions and gunfire continued.

“To God be the Glory. We have been rescued. Over 50 people in my group. No injuries,” tweeted a Kenyan businesswoman, Aggie Asiimwe Konde.

Describing the ordeal, Lucy Wanjiru said she had been trying to flee when she saw a woman on the ground floor get shot. She ended up in a washroom with several other scared people. Her friend Cynthia Kibe stayed in contact with her by phone overnight.

“I think I panicked when she told me that the gunshots are next to her,” Kibe said. “I had to keep telling her ‘Just wait, help is on the way, they are almost there, they are almost there.’ And then at one point she was like, ‘Please tell me I am getting out of here alive’ and then it was just like my breaking point.”

Mourning families and friends gathered at a nearby mortuary.

“I am a Muslim and I am Somali, I am Kenyan living here, and in that way I can assure you if al-Shabab found me today they call us what they call ‘Mortad’ (apostates), that is, someone who works against them and they wouldn’t differentiate me from yourself,” said Mohamed Yasin Jama, a friend of two colleagues killed.

The co-ordinated assault began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank, and a suicide bombing in the hotel lobby that severely wounded a number of guests, said Kenya’s national police chief, Joseph Boinnet.

Kenyan hospitals appealed for blood donations even as the number of wounded remained unclear.

Associated Press video from inside the hotel showed Kenyan security officers searching the building and scared workers emerging from hiding while gunfire could be heard. Some climbed out a window by ladder. One man got up from the floor where he appeared to be trying to hide under a piece of wood paneling, then showed his ID.

Like the attack at the Westgate Mall, this one appeared aimed at wealthy Kenyans and foreigners. It came a day after a magistrate ruled that three men must stand trial in connection with the Westgate Mall siege.

Al-Shabab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia to fight it since 2011. Tuesday’s violence came three years to the day after al-Shabab extremists attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia, killing scores of people.

The group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya. In the deadliest attack, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an assault on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 that killed 147 people, mostly students.

The latest carnage demonstrated al-Shabab’s continued ability to carry out spectacular acts of bloodshed despite a dramatic increase in U.S. airstrikes against it under President Donald Trump.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg contributed.

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Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

Ben Curtis, The Associated Press












































































































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Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

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OTTAWA — The Ontario Long Term Care Association says the federal government must do more to help provinces prepare nursing and retirement homes for the next wave of COVID-19.

Its CEO Donna Duncan is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to quickly negotiate an agreement with provincial governments to deliver funds to help long-term care systems get ready as soon as possible.

Duncan says the military members deployed to care homes in Quebec and Ontario are not a long-term solution and that hundreds more workers will need to be hired as care homes prepare for another wave of infections.

She says that will take speed, creativity and cash — to pay them and provide the protective equipment, testing and policies to make them feel safe enough to go to work.

Duncan says there also needs to be immediate infrastructure funding and agreements to find alternative spaces so homes don’t have to place more than two residents in one room.

More than 4,000 long-term care residents died of COVID-19 in Ontario and Quebec alone and Duncan says Ontario homes that had three or four patients in a single room were hit hardest by outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Defence Department accused of using pandemic to withhold info from Parliament

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OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence is being accused of trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to withhold information from Parliament and Canadians.

There has been widespread concern over various federal departments failing to respond to access-to-information requests but the Opposition Conservatives say the problem is much worse at the Defence Department.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan points to the department’s failure to respond to a large number of questions on the order paper in recent months, which it blamed on the pandemic.

Bezan says that stands in contrast to other departments having continued to answer order paper questions, a key way MPs get details about the inner workings of federal departments.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux also reported last week that the Defence Department blamed COVID-19 for its failure to respond to his request for an update on the government’s plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on new military gear in the coming years.

The Defence Department says it is committed to transparency and has responded to a dozen order paper questions since April, but the pandemic has limited access to certain records and databases and forced it to allocate key staff to other tasks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press


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june, 2020

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