Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed were so close that they were almost always together. "If you couldn't reach Abdalla, you called Feisal, and if you couldn't reach Feisal, you called Abdalla," said a mutual friend, Abdulahi Mohammed. "They even used to joke that they will one day die together."
That sentiment became a prophecy on Tuesday. The two men, who worked for a London-based development company with offices in Nairobi, Kenya, were killed while having lunch on a restaurant terrace in a luxury hotel and office complex stormed by Shabab militants.
Kenya's police chief, Joseph Boinnet, said Wednesday night that the fatalities had risen to 21 from 14, with six additional bodies retrieved from the attack site and the death of a police officer from injuries. The victims included an American and a British national.
Distraught relatives were left to scramble for more information at morgues and hospitals, as the Red Cross set up teams to help deal with the casualties and to provide counseling.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation that 700 civilians had been evacuated during the response to the assault.
"We will seek every person involved in planning, funding and executing this heinous act," he said.
All the assailants had been "eliminated," the president said, and a security operation was complete. He said the nation was on the highest alert "and shall remain so."
Gunfire could be heard in the complex earlier on Wednesday, even after the authorities said that all the buildings in the area had been secured.
The attack underscored the persistence and potency of the Shabab, who are based in Somalia and have sought to impose their strict interpretation of Islam. The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars bankrolling anti-Shabab operations for years. The group carried out a deadly attack at the Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital in 2013 and several more since then.
Mr. Kenyatta made clear in his speech that the fight against the Shabab and other militant groups would be a long one, while trying to strike an optimistic note.
"We are also a nation that never forgets those who hurt her children," he said. "We have prevailed against evil and shall continue to prevail."
The State Department confirmed late Wednesday that the American victim was Jason Spindler. His friend Kevin Yu described Mr. Spindler as a gregarious, adventure-seeking traveler who was the co-founder of an investment firm, I-DEV International, and had previous stints as an investment banker in New York and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. He was an avid rock climber and camper who practically "lived on a plane," Mr. Yu said.
"He was interested in so many different things, and completely unafraid," he said.
Mr. Spindler grew up in Houston, studied with Mr. Yu at the University of Texas at Austin, and after graduation worked in finance in New York. He was in the city when the Sept. 11 attack occurred, and volunteered to help at the scene, Mr. Yu said. He added that Mr. Spindler's parents were on their way to Nairobi; their son would have turned 41 next week, and they had planned to celebrate his birthday there.
The Gatsby Charitable Foundation said that Luke Potter, its Africa programs director, was among the casualties. He had worked for the group for three and a half years, running projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. The British Foreign Office identified him as a dual citizen of Britain and South Africa.
Mr. Mohammed, the friend of Mr. Dahir and Mr. Ahmed, said he had spent much of the day at a morgue, where he had to identify the bodies and write a statement, in addition to providing fingerprints and a DNA sample.
"They told us everybody is a suspect," he said.
The two victims had worked for Adam Smith International, which said that one of its employees had also been killed in the mall attack in 2013. The company said that 50 staff members and consultants had been evacuated during the more recent attack.
The siege began around 3 p.m. Tuesday, when four men reportedly jumped out of a white car, opened fire at a security checkpoint and blasted their way into the complex. Security footage shows the gunmen calmly fanning out inside the complex before beginning their rampage.
The police and counterterrorism forces quickly responded. Gun battles were fought and cars burned as the police rushed people out of the complex.
"The operation was executed very strictly and precisely," said Kenya's interior secretary, Fred Matiang'i, speaking from the site of the attack shortly after the operation ended. "We are moving now to Phase 2," which he described as "handling the criminals."
Ronald Ng'eno, who works in public relations, was in his office at the complex when he heard a loud explosion followed by gunshots. "We tried to escape, but we soon realized the attackers were coming from outside," he said. "That's when we decided to hide in a bathroom. Luckily, they didn't come looking for us."
Mr. Ng'eno, 38, said the rescue had been well coordinated. "I can say the rescue mission was very swift; it was done very fast, otherwise the attackers would have found us."
Brenda Onguti, a health care worker, described being at the Secret Garden cafe when she heard a bomb and saw smoke, although she initially thought the source of the commotion was a gas cylinder.
Her father, Dr. Meshak Onguti, said, "She sent me a message saying they had been attacked, and as time went on, she was saying, 'I love you; it looks like the guns are now close to us.'"
He added: "It was terrifying. She said she loved us, and that's what affected us most."
A loud blast was heard coming from the complex on Wednesday, briefly startling those who heard it, but a journalist at the scene said it was part of a "mopping up" operation by the police, who were detonating grenades left by the attackers.
Dusit International, which runs the DusitD2 hotel in the complex, said that the hotel had been temporarily closed and that guests had been taken elsewhere in the city, The Associated Press reported.
In his speech, Mr. Kenyatta sought to project an air of normalcy, encouraging everyone to go about their daily business.
"We assure every citizen and foreigner that you are safe," he said.
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