Dusit attack: ‘How my daring brother rescued me from hell’

A security officer at the scene of yesterday’s terror attack at DusitD2 hotel in Riverside, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • When the first explosion went off, Grace Kamau sensed something was wrong. She called her brother, a Recce Squad officer, who swiftly came to her rescue.

In 2014, businessman Abdul Haji went into the Westgate Mall to rescue his brother and current Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

In a similar manner Tuesday, Mr Leonard Kamau daringly went into the 14 Riverside mixed-use development to rescue his sister.

When the first explosion went off outside Secret Garden, a restaurant within the complex, Shell BG Group employees sensed something was wrong.

Ms Grace Kamau, who works at the British multinational, saw rubble flying to her desk after a loud bang and immediately decided to make a run for it.

As the Shell BG Group employees started making their way down the stairs, they heard gunshots that appeared to be very close to them.

“As we were going down the stairs, they started shooting so we came back up and entered a store. When we were hiding we knew they were near because they even shot at the door,” Ms Kamau recalls.

At this point, she communicated to her father Charles Kamau and brother Leonard. Both acted swiftly.

The senior Mr Kamau made his way to Riverside but was stopped from going beyond the Chiromo turn by authorities.

Leonard managed to enter the building housing Shell BG Group, and alerted the multi-agency team already on the ground on the location of his sister and her colleagues.

He then joined the multi-agency team in moving into the building and rescuing the Shell BG Group employees, who were led out of the complex. Lucky for Ms Kamau and her colleagues, nobody was injured despite the several shots fired in their direction while they were in hiding.


“My brother came there and entered the building. He is the one who told the cops where we were. They came and we got out. There were no injuries, but there was one guy who left us and went to the sixth floor balcony so we don’t know where he is,” she added.

Survivors told journalists outside the hotel that the gunshots, some minutes after the explosion, had thrown them off guard.

“My office is on the second floor, and the explosion happened behind me on the ground floor. It was a very loud explosion, and debris was all over, including in my office. We all tried to run out, but then the shooting started, and we all started coming back to the building,” Mr Okoth Obado said outside the hotel.

He explained: “I told myself I will find a small haven: I went behind a small store, and hid there. I was joined by six other people after about two minutes.”

He said he was rescued by the Recce Squad after about an hour, and “I want to thank them for their valour”.

Mr Godfrey Gwena, who said he was in the building complex for a meeting, said they had at first thought that it was a gas cylinder that had exploded. “We thought it was a gas cylinder, and we relaxed. We hid ourselves in the best places we knew in our offices, and we thank God the rescue team came as fast as they did,” he said.

A man who identified himself as James, who said he sells clothes on Riverside Drive, just off the hotel, said tenants of the building had noticed the car the terrorists used to drive to the building complex, and that it had come at least four times before.

“They parked at the barrier, and they came out guns blazing, just right after the explosion. They did not even get to the checking point,” he said.

Survivors lauded the efforts of the first rescue team and the Recce team, which Mr Henry Githaiga, a former journalist, described “safe and controlled”.