As a result of an attack by armed attackers on a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, at least 12 people were killed, a Somali intelligence official told Reuters on Saturday. Fighters from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization confessed to the attack. Earlier, Mohamed Abdikadir, a representative of the Somali authorities, reported that the security forces had managed to save most of the people in the building. The operation of the services is still ongoing.
Two bombs hidden in cars exploded on Friday near the Hayat Hotel in the capital Somalia Mogadishu, after which unidentified attackers took control of it, the Reuters agency reported. “One car crashed into a hotel barrier and another crashed into a hotel gate,” a police representative told Reuters.
Witnesses say the explosions injured rescuers, members of the security forces and civilians, especially those who rushed to the scene to help. – The area is now cordoned off and there is an exchange of fire between the security forces and the bandits – said one of the witnesses, Mohamed Salad.
The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab, fighting to overthrow the Somali government, claimed responsibility for the attack. “A group of al-Shabaab attackers forcibly entered the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu. The militants are carrying out random shootings at the hotel,” the group said in a brief statement on the Shabbab support website.
There are victims
The incident sparked a fierce shooting between security forces and jihadist bandits, said security officer Abdukadir Hassan. “We don’t know the details yet, but there are casualties, and the security forces are now fighting the enemy that is stuck inside the building,” he added. It is not clear if there are hostages at the hotel. It is also unknown how many attackers are inside.
As reported by a representative of Somali intelligence, Reuters agency, at the moment the authorities can confirm that the attack killed 12 people, mainly civilians. “The operation is close to completion but still ongoing,” he added.
“Security forces attacked terrorists who were surrounded in a room in the hotel building, most people were saved,” Somali security representative Mohamed Abdikadir said Saturday morning.
Hayat is a popular meeting place for government officials.
Al-Shabaab militants want to overthrow the Somali government
Earlier this week United States announced that their forces had killed 13 al-Shabaab fighters in a raid in the mid-south of the country as Islamic fighters attacked Somali forces. The US has launched several attacks on militants in recent weeks. In May, the president Joe Biden ordered the restoration of a US military presence in Somalia to help local authorities fight al-Shabab by reversing the decision of his predecessor, Donald Trumpon the withdrawal of most of the US forces.
Militants within the group have also recently launched attacks on the Somali-Ethiopian border, raising concerns about a possible new strategy for Islamic militants. Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said last month that ending the insurgency requires more than a military approach, but that his government will only negotiate with the group at the right time.
Al-Shabaab fighters were driven out of the capital in 2011 by African Union forces, but the group continues to control rural areas and has the ability to carry out deadly attacks on civilian and military targets. The organization admitted to similar attacks in the past. In August 2020, it announced that it was behind the attack on another hotel in Mogadishu, which killed at least 16 people.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / SAID YUSUF WARSAME