Kenya, Nairobi terror attack targets expatriates and foreign businesses – NSA Global’s evacuation co-ordination amidst the chaos.

21 people were tragically killed in the militant attack on a hotel and office complex in Nairobi, Kenya on 15 January, when a group of gunmen raided the office and hotel complex in the upmarket Westland area of Nairobi. At least two explosions targeted parked vehicles outside a bank in the complex and the lobby of the DusitD2 Nairobi Hotel.

The assault began with an explosion in the parking lot followed by a suicide bomb-blast in front of the nearby Secret Garden restaurant. Al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist terror organisation, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The four heavily-armed gunmen then entered the complex and raided offices and restaurants, with survivors later recounting how the attackers fired indiscriminately, clearly aiming to kill and maim as many people as possible. Local police reported that five suspected terrorists were killed in the follow-up operation, suspecting that at least one terrorist infiltrated the complex earlier that day.

Circumstantial evidence indicates that the attack was planned at least two weeks in advance and that the attackers sought to target expatriates and foreign businesses in this incident. The complex hosts local offices of international corporations, including Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Pernod Ricard and Dow Chemical among others with the Australian High Commission and Consulate as well as the Consulate of Malta across the road from the compound, just off Riverside Drive.

Casualties of the attack included US and UK foreign nationals. An estimated 700 people were evacuated from the scene by Kenyan security forces and private security companies, including NSA Global assets.

Assisting our clients on the ground

NSA received a call at around 5pm local time from a client that some of their employees were trapped in the Arlington Building, less than 100 meters from the DusitD2 Hotel. At this time gunfire could still be heard coming from the Hotel Complex.

NSA activated local assets to assist with the evacuation of around six staff members. The initial challenge was getting the NSA security team and vehicles close enough to the complex that was already cordoned off by Kenyan security forces. 

Showing no fear in the light of ongoing security operation, the NSA security team leader entered the compound on foot to make contact with our client’s employees and lead them out to the awaiting vehicles.

All employees were safely evacuated and escorted to their respective residences.

Kenya has seen a number of terror attacks in recent years – this, the latest in extremist attacks has been strongly condemned by the UN Security Council. With the rise of terrorist activities and fear of terrorist threats in many parts of the world, companies need to see this as a threat to expatriate workers, and disruption of their international business activities.

Planning and coping around the threat of terrorism as a multi-national corporate

When considering establishing or relocating office premises to a new country/region/city/area, it is essential that sufficient due diligence is conducted, in order to assess any potential threats or risks associated with the area or specific location. This may include meeting with local embassy RSOs or security personnel, CSOs or security managers of other companies and private consultants with a good contact network and local knowledge.

It must be considered that a high presence of Western companies (or embassies) in an area could raise the risk profile in certain countries.

Conduct proper security assessments of the location in order to ensure that security measures are commensurate with identified threats or risks.  If not, the cost and practicality of improving these measures must be considered before a decision is made.

Ensure that you are able to obtain intelligence, information or warnings that may impact the location. OSAC (The Overseas Security Advisory Council) is a great source of such information, as are a number of private organisations.

Include training for staff regarding local conditions and practices and on what to do in the event of an attack; these can be scheduled similarly to (or even along with) with fire drills, first aid etc. to ensure that people understand the safest response and steps that they should take.

Establish areas that are suitable for staff to ‘shelter-in-place’ in (similar to a “safe room” concept) should an attack occur and safe evacuation is not possible.  Such areas should be known to staff and able to be easily secured.

Ensure that emergency communications are available and that the correct numbers to contact are known to all staff and are visibly posted in those secure locations.

Ensure that you have trusted, capable local resources that you can turn to in case of emergency and an established SLA / SOP with them for such events.

Why security risk and threat management is imperative for high profile business people, employees and tourists abroad

The purpose of undertaking risk assessments is to identify actual / perceived threats with a view to initiating and recommending countermeasures and mitigating strategies to detect and deter threats and reduce vulnerability to potential incidents. In addition to improving security and safety, such an analysis may be a valuable aid in strategic, tactical and operational decisions related to safety and security.

With the ‘unknown certainty’ of terrorism, crime and social and political activism, it is impossible to ensure a risk-free environment. Incidents will happen and emergencies will arise from time to time. It is a matter of how one prepares, responds, and recovers to mitigate the consequences of emergencies and incidents. Awareness of risk assessment methodologies to detect threats, identify vulnerabilities, and reduce consequences can facilitate proper, successful mitigation. Information gathered through this process is extremely valuable for enhancing security measures. Risk assessments provide vital information for the protection of critical assets.

US warns of terror risk in Kenya “The US Embassy in Kenya has warned of a possible attack against Westerners. The mission tweeted on 6 February 2019 that “credible information indicates Westerners may be targeted by extremists in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki and coastal areas”. The warning came just three weeks after the above devastating attack by al-Shabaab against a Nairobi hotel that killed at least 21 people.”

DISASTER AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE MANAGEMENT

NSA Global Security Consultants 

Our international presence, local resources and strategic global partnerships give us the ability to provide a fast, effective response to support our global clients in times of crisis.

Our services include:

  • Provision of Incident-specific Traveler Information;
  • Development of Evacuation and Business Continuity Plans;
  • Search and Rescue Teams;
  • Evacuation Co-ordination;
  • Medical Response;
  • Securing of Personnel and Assets.
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