Somalia: At least eight civilians killed in a Shebab attack on a Mogadishu hotel

Somalia: At least eight civilians killed in a Shebab attack on a Mogadishu hotel

At least eight civilians have been killed in clashes between al-Shabaab Islamist radicals who attacked a Mogadishu hotel in the Somali capital on Friday night and security forces trying to neutralize them, a Somali security official said on Saturday.

“The security forces continued to neutralize the terrorists who were surrounded in one room of the hotel building. Most people were rescued, but at least eight civilians are confirmed dead at this time,” the official said. , Mohamed Abdikadir.”

Jihadists stormed the popular Hayat Hotel in an exchange of gunfire and explosions with security forces on Friday night.

“Security forces rescued dozens of civilians, including children, trapped in the building,” Abdikadir added.

The attackers were still holed up at the hotel early Saturday, and sporadic gunfire and loud explosions could be heard in the area.

Somali police spokesman Abdifatah Adan Hassan told reporters the blast was caused by a suicide bomber.

Witnesses said a second blast occurred minutes after the first, killing rescuers, security personnel and civilians who rushed to the hotel after the first blast.

An Islamist group with ties to al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, which has been involved in an insurgency against the Somali federal government for 15 years, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“A group of al-Shabaab attackers has entered the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, the fighters are shooting indiscriminately inside the hotel,” the group confirmed in a brief statement on a pro website.

It is the largest attack in Mogadishu since the election of Somalia’s new President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in May.

To ponder

The Shebab were expelled from the country’s main cities, including Mogadishu, in 2011, but they remain based in large rural areas. In recent months, they have stepped up their attacks.

On Wednesday, the US Army said it had killed 13 Shebab militias in an airstrike attacking regular Somali armed forces in a remote area of ​​the Horn of Africa country.

The strike was carried out near Teedaan, about 300 km north of the capital Mogadishu, according to a statement by the American military command in Africa (Africom) on Sunday.

The United States has conducted several airstrikes on militants in recent weeks.

In May, US President Joe Biden decided to reestablish a military presence in Somalia to fight the Shebab there, approving a Pentagon request that deemed the rotation system adopted by Donald Trump at the end of his term in office too risky and ineffective.

In recent weeks, the Shebab have also carried out attacks on the Somalia-Ethiopia border, raising concerns about stability in that border region.

Somalia’s new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said last month that a military approach would not be enough to end al-Shabaab’s violent insurgency, stressing that his government would only negotiate with the jihadist group when the time was right.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre announced in early August the appointment of a former radical Islamist leader as Minister of Religious Affairs in the Somali government.

Muktar Robow, aka Abu Mansour, publicly resigned from the movement he helped found in August 2017.