Somali forces end siege at Mogadishu hotel

At least 12 people were killed after Al Shabaab militants attacked and took control of the Hayat Hotel



A security officer patrols near Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu. — AFP
A security officer patrols near Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu. — AFP

By Agencies

Published: Sun 21 Aug 2022, 2:26 AM

Somali forces have ended a deadly siege by Al Shabaab militants at a hotel in the capital Mogadishu that lasted about 30 hours, a security commander told AFP around midnight on Saturday.

“The security forces have ended the siege now and the gunmen are dead, we had no incoming gunfire from the building in the past hour,” the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the government would give a press briefing about the bloody attack on Sunday morning.

At least 12 people were killed when Al Qaeda linked militants attacked the hotel.

The attackers blasted their way into the Hayat Hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire. Somalia’s Al Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility.

“So far we have confirmed 12 people, mostly civilians, died,” Mohammed, an intelligence officer who only gave one name, told Reuters earlier.

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The gunmen were holding an unknown number of hostages on the second floor of the building, Mohammed said, preventing authorities from using heavy weapons.

They had also bombed out the stairs to make it harder to access certain floors, he said.

Those battling the militants inside the hotel include Gaashan, a paramilitary force specialising in counter-insurgency, a former security official familiar with the force said.

The detonations sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy junction on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire still crackled across the capital on Saturday evening.

Explosions were heard on Friday night as government forces tried to wrest control of the hotel back from the militants, witnesses said.

Large sections of the hotel were destroyed by the fighting, they said.

Friday’s attack was the first such major incident since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

The United States condemned the attack and said it was steadfast in its “support of Somali and African Union-led efforts to counter terrorism.”

“We express our heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones, wish a full recovery to those injured, and commend Somalia’s security forces,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Al Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Hayat Hotel is a popular venue with lawmakers and other government officials. There was no immediate information on whether any of them had been caught up in the siege.


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