NTV reporter hid in toilet for hours as terrorists combed hotel

Wednesday January 16 2019

 Silas Apollo

NTV reporter Silas Apollo had gone to conduct an interview at Grosvenor Suite offices in Riverside when terrorists struck. PHOTO | COURTESY 

SAMWEL OWINO
By SAMWEL OWINO
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For NTV reporter Silas Apollo, Tuesday was just like any other day at work — he planned to get news to inform his viewers.

Together with his cameraman Dickson Onyango, Mr Apollo went to interview some of the members of the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) at their Grosvenor Suite offices in Riverside, Nairobi.

Then the terrorists struck! Mr Apollo was still in the building, and with the other people caught up in the attack, they crammed up in the toilet on the second floor, awaiting rescue.

In a WhatsApp group, Mr Apollo shared with other journalists how scared he was. He could hear gunshots all over the building, he said.

The attack happened around 3.15pm, he said. At first it was a loud explosion, possibly a bomb, followed by a ring of gunfire.

The scene of the attack was 14 Riverside Drive, where DusitD2 hotel and the CRA offices are located.

“They have been combing the building and shooting aimlessly. It’s too scary to imagine. I’m inside the building, which is under attack. It’s real guys. Had gone to interview CRA guys, I’m too scared for my life,” Mr Apollo said.

“It’s silent now, though we can hear somebody trying to break the doors. We don’t know where the attackers are and what they are up to,” he added in a 4.40pm post.

“We are crammed inside the toilet with a number of guys. I’m very scared,” the reporter further said.

When Ms Aisha Karanja called the Nation news desk about 10 minutes after news broke about the raid, she could barely express herself. She was panting as she reported about her niece Maurine Wangare, who was at the hotel.

Ms Wangare works at Turn Up Travel Company in the building under attack. She had sent a text message to Ms Karanja, saying, they needed help urgently.

“We are not safe, we need help,” reads the text from Ms Wangare.

BLACK SMOKE

Several people trapped in the building took to their social media pages to update their relatives and the country at large of their whereabouts and calling for help.

Mr Ron Ng’eno, using his Twitter account @ronald_ngeno, tweeted:

“I am hiding in a bathroom on first floor Grosvenor building, terrorist are room to room HELP (sic).”

He further posted: “If I die I love the Lord and believe I will go to heaven, please tell my family I love them. I love you Caleb, Mark and Carol.”

Al-Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apart from the hotel, the building houses multinational companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, Amadeus Global Travel Distribution Ltd, Colgate Palmolive (EA) and Cellulant Kenya.

Flames and plumes of black smoke billowed into the sky from the parking lot of the compound, where several vehicles were on fire, with scores of people fleeing, some with slight injuries.

At the site, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti was seen live on TV trying to evacuate people, and giving directions to ambulances that had arrived.

The Recce Squad could be seen moving around the building and planning how to rescue the hostages.