Mogadishu: At least 13 civilians have been killed and dozens injured in an Islamist militant attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital, officials said Saturday. Fighters from al-Qaeda’s affiliate al-Shabaab stormed the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu on Friday night, unleashing gunfire and blasts. Dozens of people were trapped inside, but officials said many, including children, have since been rescued.

Sporadic gunshots and loud explosions may have been heard until Saturday afternoon, but details remain difficult to ascertain amidst the chaos. was elected in May after months of political unrest. Al-Shabaab, which has waged a deadly rebellion against a weak government in the Horn of Africa for 15 years, has claimed responsibility.

“We have received information that five more victims have been confirmed dead, bringing the total number of civilians killed by the terrorists to 13,” security official Mohamed Abdikadir told AFP. will be,” he said. “Security forces rescued dozens of civilians, including children, who were trapped inside the building.”

Police officer Ibrahim Duale confirmed that more than 10 people were killed, but said an update would be released once the siege was over. “Security forces will announce the moment the siege is over. It took a long time because of the complexity of the rescue mission,” Duale told AFP. Abdirahman Jama said the facility was treating at least 40 people injured in the hotel attack and another mortar attack on another part of the capital.

Newlyweds injured in mortar attack

Dozens gathered outside the four-story hotel to find out the fate of their loved ones. “We were looking for my relative who was trapped inside the hotel. She was confirmed dead along with six others, two of whom I know,” an official from the government said. There were no strong comments, but both East Africa, which groups IGAD, and Turkey, which has military bases in Somalia, expressed strong condemnation. In another incident, a mortar salvo hit the seaside district of Hamar Jajab, district commissioner Mukawiye Madi told AFP. , and a family with three children, a mother and a father,” he said. There were no immediate claims for that attack.

Witnesses had reported at least two powerful explosions on Friday as gunmen stormed a hotel, a hotspot for government officials on a busy area of ​​airport road. Adan Hassan told reporters on Friday that the first explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who broke into a hotel with other gunmen. He said there were more casualties as rescuers, security forces and civilians rushed to the scene.

In a brief statement on its pro-Shabaab website, al-Shabaab said its fighters had conducted “random shooting” inside the hotel. Its spokesman Abdiaziz Abu-Musab told the group’s Andalus Radio Saturday that its troops were still in control of the building and “had suffered heavy casualties.” Since Mohammed took office, al-Shabaab fighters have carried out several attacks in Somalia and have also launched attacks on the Ethiopian border, raising concerns about a possible new strategy. The US has announced that US forces have killed 13 al-Shabaab operatives in an airstrike. This reverses the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump since US President Joe Biden ordered the resumption of US military presence in Somalia. .

decades of chaos

Mohamud said last month that ending the jihadist uprising will require more than a military approach, but that his government will only negotiate with the group when the time is right. Al-Shabab, who was forced out of the capital by African Union forces in 2011, still controls the countryside and continues deadly attacks targeting political, civilian and military targets, and a popular hotel. and restaurants are frequently attacked.

Earlier this month, new Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre announced the appointment of the group’s former deputy leader and spokesman, Mukhtar Robow, as minister of religion. Lobow, 53, said he defected from Al-Shabaab in 2017, and at one point the U.S. government offered his $5 million bounty for his arrest. Somalia has been in turmoil since the fall of President Siad Barre’s military government in 1991.

His expulsion was followed by a civil war and the rise of al-Shabaab. The deadliest attack came in October 2017, when a truck full of explosives exploded in Mogadishu’s busy commercial district, killing 512 people. As well as the rebellion, Somalia has also been hit by a devastating drought that has forced one million people from their homes and left the country in the shadow of famine, according to the United Nations.

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