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UPDATE: 15 killed in ongoing Al Shabaab siege on Mogadishu hotel, including owner


Saturday August 20, 2022

 

Mogadishu (HOL) - At least 15 people were killed and several seriously wounded after Al Shabaab militants stormed a popular hotel in Mogadishu on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, federal government forces were still working to end the hotel siege as heavy gunfire could still be heard from the hotel.

According to witnesses, the attack began with an explosion by a suicide bomber outside the hotel gate before gunmen charged the lobby of Hayat Hotel. A second suicide bomber detonated his explosive device minutes later, injuring first responders, civilians and security forces.

Abdirahman Hassan Iman, the hotels owner is believed to be among the dead.

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It was unclear how many Al Shabaab fighters participated in the attack.

"We were having tea near the hotel lobby when we heard the first blast followed by gunfire," eyewitness Abdullahi Hussein told The Associated Press by phone.

"I immediately rushed toward hotel rooms on the ground floor and locked it (the door). The militants went straight upstairs and started shooting. I was inside the room until the security forces arrived and rescued me."

On his way to safety, Hussein said he saw "several bodies" lying lifeless outside the hotel reception.

There was no immediate word on the victims' identities, although information has slowly started to trickle out to family members.

Abdihadi Mohamed Sheikh Adan, a Somali-Norwegian working with the federal Ministry of Petroleum was among those killed, according to Sahra Abdi, a veteran Somali journalist with VOA.

Adan was a businessman and engineer who recently returned to Somalia.


Somali-Norwegian Abdihadi Mohamed Sheikh Adan is reported to among the victims of Friday's Al Shabaab attack on Hayat Hotel (SUPPLIED)

Among the security officials injured in the attack were Banadir regional NISA commander Muhidin Warba and an officer named Mahad Korow, who were hit by grenades thrown from the hotel onto the street by Al Shabaab militants.

Hours after the attack started, the last of the attackers were reportedly holed up on the top floor of the Hotel Hayat.

Guests staying at the Sahafi International Hotel - the target of a similar attack in November 2018 and November 2015 - were locked down several hours into the attack as security officials cordoned off the surrounding buildings.

According to reports, a specialized security team saved dozens of hotel visitors, including children and staff.

According to the head of Mogadishu's only ambulance service, Abdikadir Abdirahman, nine people were carted off by Amin Ambulance and transferred to local hospitals. 

The Hayat, located near the KM4 roundabout, is a popular hangout for federal government civil servants and other members of the political establishment.

The Al Qaeda-linked militant insurgent group Al Shabaab has taken credit for Friday's attack, marking the first large-scale assault on a Mogadishu target since President Mohamud took over the reins in mid-May.

 



"A group of Al Shabaab attackers forced their way into Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, and the fighters are carrying out random shooting inside the hotel," the group in a statement posted on a pro-Shabaab website said.

Mohamud, Somalia's new president, stated last month that defeating the Islamist insurgency would require more than just a military approach and floated the unprecedented idea of direct negotiations with Al Shabaab.

Concerns about a potential new shift strategy by Al Shabaab have been raised in recent weeks after the group's fighters launched a multi-pronged attack into the Ethiopian border regions, which was subsequently repulsed.

The US has recently conducted several air raids on militants, including an air strike that killed 13 Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia's central-southern region.

The group controls large swaths of rural territory in southern and central Somalia but has expanded its influence into urbanized areas controlled by the Mogadishu-based government. It continues to carry out deadly mass-casualty attacks on civilian and military targets, focusing on soft targets like popular hotels and restaurants.


With files from AGENCIES



 





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