About 700 people survived an attack by gunmen on a compound of offices and a hotel in Kenya’s capital. The siege, which began at 15:00 local time on Tuesday, lasted 19 hours.
Here’s how some of them escaped from the al-Shabab attackers:
‘Crammed in a toilet’
Two journalists working for national broadcaster NTV found themselves caught in the siege for more than 12 hours.
“We are crammed inside the toilet with a number of guys,” messaged reporter Silas Apollo to a WhatsApp group with other journalists while hiding. “I’m very scared.”
“They have been combing the building and shooting aimlessly. It’s too scary to imagine,” he posted on WhatsApp.
They told Kenya’s private Daily Nation newspaper that they, and at least 14 others trapped with them, had to change positions moving from the toilets – sometimes crawling, lying on the floor or standing – to the main hall.
They were eventually rescued from their office block at 03:15 local time on Wednesday.
‘I sent a message on Twitter’
At around 19:00 local time, as gunfire was heard in the vicinity, Ronald Ng’eno tweeted that he was stuck in a bathroom:Skip Twitter post by @ronald_ngeno
We are still in bathroom gunshots in building, please pray for us.— Ron Ng’eno (@ronald_ngeno) January 15, 2019
End of Twitter post by @ronald_ngeno
This was about five hours after the siege had begun. He then tweeted that his phone battery was about to die.
Many replied, including two who gave information of the mobile phone number of the incident commander.
His tweets had already attracted a lot of attention on Twitter as he had tweeted saying goodbye to his family and his belief that he would go to heaven should he die:Skip Twitter post 2 by @ronald_ngeno
If I die I love the Lord and believe I will go to heaven please tell my family I love then I love you Caleb, Mark and Carol— Ron Ng’eno (@ronald_ngeno) January 15, 2019
End of Twitter post 2 by @ronald_ngeno
He walked out of the complex early on Wednesday morning after being trapped for more than 10 hours, reports Nairobi News.
‘Everyone started running’
“It was just after serving food to the customers, then all of a sudden a bang outside the hotel,” a waiter at the DusitD2 hotel, who asked to be called Charles, told the BBC OS radio programme on the World Service
He, another colleague and a customer from the hotel escaped together.
“The terrorists started shooting at the people. After that we started running. Everyone started running.
“Some were running outside, some were hiding in the toilets. I managed to escape through the back door.”
He added that Kenyan security services were already at the scene when he escaped “and they helped us to manage to walk out”.
‘I also survived the Westgate mall attack’
Tracy Wanjiru, who was caught up in the DusitD2 siege, also survived the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall six years ago, reports Nairobi News site.
In September 2013, al-Shabab gunmen entered the Nairobi mall and fired on shoppers, leading to a siege over four days in which 67 people were killed.
“I was working there when the attackers stormed in, it was not easy just like today. All I can say is that I thank God,” she told Nairobi News.
She heard gunshots near where she worked as a manager of a hair salon within the DusitD2 hotel complex. She tried to look outside and then heard a loud explosion.
“I jumped back to the salon, told my colleagues to be keen because we were under attack. They dismissed me at first but when they heard wails and screams, everyone went into hiding.”
‘I saw a leg’
John Maingi said there had been “a flash of lights and a loud bang” at the Secret Garden restaurant where he worked.
There have been emotional scenes as people were rescued
“When I peeped outside I saw a human leg, which has been cut off,” he told AFP news agency.
“We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us.”
Joe Bright Nyarko
Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.