Somali forces battle to end deadly hotel siege in Mogadishu

Somali forces battle to end deadly hotel siege in Mogadishu
The Hayat Hotel is a popular spot in Mogadishu and is frequented by government officials and civilia...

As security troops continued to fight, militants camped inside the hotel, and at least 10 people were confirmed dead in the incident for which the al-Shabab organization claimed responsibility.

Officials and local media have claimed that at least 10 people were killed as shooters attacked a hotel in the Somali city of Mogadishu after two-vehicle bomb explosions and shootings.

On Friday night, shooters assaulted the Hotel Hayat in a shower of gunfire and bomb explosions. The Hotel Hayat is known to be frequented by government figures.

The attack, which was the first after the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as Somalia’s new president in May, was claimed by the al-Shabab terrorist organization.

The attackers and government security forces sent to retake the hotel appeared to be at a standstill, according to Hussein Mohamed, a freelance journalist reporting from outside the hotel in Mogadishu, who told Al Jazeera on Saturday that gunfire could still be heard coming from inside the structure.

According to Mohamed, who spoke over the phone from the capital of Somalia, at least 10 people died in the attack on the hotel, which was particularly well-liked by officials.

“Al-Shabab already claimed responsibility for the attack saying they held hostage, several politicians. They did not mention the names of the officials, but the group often carries out such attacks in the capital Mogadishu and many parts of the country,” Mohamed told Al Jazeera.

According to Mohamed, the assault occurred as government troops intensified their operations against al-Shabab, and President Mohamud of Somalia vowed to destroy the militant organization. He continued by saying that the al-Shabab leadership had also pledged to overthrow Mohamud’s administration.

AFP reported on Saturday that scores of stranded residents, including children, had been evacuated, according to security officer Mohamed Abdikadir.

The majority of the individuals were evacuated, but at least eight civilians have been confirmed killed thus far, he added. “The security forces continued to eliminate terrorists who have been surrounded within a room in the hotel structure.”

There was no immediate information available on the victims’ identities.

One vehicle bomb went off at a barrier close to the hotel, the other at the building’s gate, according to a police officer who only provided his name as Ahmed. Security personnel and the shooters, who had barricaded themselves inside the building after the assault, engaged in a bloody gun battle.

To learn the fate of loved ones trapped inside, dozens of people have gathered outside the hotel.

“We have been looking for a relative of mine who was trapped inside the hotel; she was confirmed dead together with six other people, two of them I know,” witness Muudey Ali told AFP.

Al-Shabab has been battling to overthrow the Somalian government for more than ten years. Using a rigorous interpretation of Islamic law, it seeks to impose its laws.

According to a police spokeswoman, the state-run Somali National News Agency said on its Twitter account that police were engaged in an operation to halt the attack. The organization published a photo of the situation with smoke rising over it.

In an airstrike earlier this week, the United States claimed to have killed 13 al-Shabab fighters targeting Somali forces in the central-southern region of the nation.

The US has recently conducted several airstrikes on the group’s fighters.

In the past, Al-Shabab has taken credit for acts of this nature. For example, the organization claimed responsibility for a raid on another hotel in Mogadishu in August 2020, during which at least 16 individuals perished.

An African Union force drove al-Shabab fighters from the city in 2011, but the armed organization still governs large areas of the countryside.

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