People pray at a mosque during the burial ceremony on Wednesday, January 16 2019, of Abdalla Mohamed Dahir and Feisal Ahmed who were killed in an attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: AFP/LUIS TATO
People pray at a mosque during the burial ceremony on Wednesday, January 16 2019, of Abdalla Mohamed Dahir and Feisal Ahmed who were killed in an attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: AFP/LUIS TATO

Nairobi — Kenyan detectives have arrested nine suspects in connection with a Somali militant attack on a Nairobi hotel and office complex that killed 21 people, police said on Friday, indicating that the search for possible accomplices in the raid was gathering pace.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday evening that a 20-hour siege had ended with security forces killing five militants who had stormed the hotel complex, forcing hundreds of people into terrifying escapes.

"The detectives are looking for a woman suspected to have ferried weapons from Kiunga through the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi," a police official who did not wish to be named said, referring to a region near the Somali border.

On Wednesday, inspector-general of police Joseph Boinnet said they had arrested two people in connection with the attacks.

The police official did not say when the other seven were arrested.

Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based Al-Qaeda affiliate fighting to impose strict Islamic law, said it carried out the assault on the upscale dusitD2 compound over US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Kenya, the East African hub for multinational companies and the UN, became a frequent target for Al-Shabaab after Kenya sent troops into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 to try to create a buffer zone along its border.

Sixteen Kenyans including a police officer, a US survivor of the September 11 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on the US, and a British development worker were among the dead in the attack.

Images of the bloodied bodies of five attackers were broadcast across social media as Kenyatta announced the end of the siege, which echoed a 2013 Al-Shabaab assault that killed 67 people at the Westgate shopping centre in the same district. 

Reuters