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Nineteen people still missing after deadly militant attack in Kenya: Red Cross

NAIROBI: Nineteen people remain unaccounted for two days after Somali militants attacked a hotel complex in Nairobi and killed at least 21 people, the Red Cross said on Thursday, raising the possibility of a considerably higher death toll.

Al Shabaab, a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate, said it carried the assault on the upscale dusitD2 compound.

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

The Red Cross had on Wednesday afternoon put the number of those unaccounted for at 50.

In a statement some hours later, it said the number of people still unaccounted for had dropped to 19.

Kenya, the East African hub for multinational companies and the United Nations, became a frequent target for al Shabaab after Kenya sent troops into neighboring Somalia in 2011 to try to create a buffer zone along its border.

In a two-page statement claiming responsibility for the attack, al Shabaab did not spell out why it had chosen to hit Kenya.

The bloody 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 in the Westgate shopping center in the same district.

Sixteen Kenyans including a policeman, an American survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States, and a British development worker were among the dead in the hotel complex, Nairobi police chief Joseph Boinnet said.

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