Wednesday 7 December 2016

Islamic extremists attack hotel in Somalia

Published 01/11/2015 | 10:28

Somali soldiers evacuate their colleague who was wounded during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali soldiers evacuate their colleague who was wounded during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians assist a man injured during an attack by Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside the Sahafi hotel as he arrives for treatment at the Medina hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Ismail Taxta

Somalia's Islamic extremists have attacked a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, killing at least nine people and injuring 10.

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Security forces ended the siege by al-Shabab attackers at the Sahafi Hotel by midday, said police commander Ali Ahmed.

"It's over now, we have killed all the attackers." said Mr Ahmed.

"They came under cover of darkness and attacked the hotel while some of the guards were sleeping," he said.

A general view shows Somali policemen holding their position during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a Sahafi hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A general view shows Somali policemen holding their position during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a Sahafi hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The attack started at daybreak when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle laden with explosives at the gate of the Sahafi Hotel and then gunmen ran into the hotel and shot at people, police spokesman Mohamed Hussein said.

"They have killed the owner of the hotel, a former military general, and other officials during the attack," Mr Hussein said.

A second explosion came from a car bomb outside the hotel, said witnesses.

Al-Shabab, the Islamic extremist rebels waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak UN- backed government, claimed responsibility for the attack on the group's radio station, Andulus. The fighters infiltrated the hotel, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab, al-Shabab's military spokesman, told the radio station.

A Somali policeman holds his position during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. Two bombs ripped into a hotel in the Somali capital on Sunday and security forces fought Islamist al Shabaab gunmen who stormed inside the building for hours afterwards, police and witnesses said. At least 11 people were killed. Al Shabaab, which has frequently launched attacks in Mogadishu in its bid to topple the Western-backed government, said it was behind the assault on the Sahafi hotel where government officials and lawmakers stay. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A Somali policeman holds his position during an exchange of fire with Islamist al Shabaab gunmen outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. Two bombs ripped into a hotel in the Somali capital on Sunday and security forces fought Islamist al Shabaab gunmen who stormed inside the building for hours afterwards, police and witnesses said. At least 11 people were killed. Al Shabaab, which has frequently launched attacks in Mogadishu in its bid to topple the Western-backed government, said it was behind the assault on the Sahafi hotel where government officials and lawmakers stay. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somali troops and African Union forces went to the scene and took control of the hotel, according to a Twitter post by the African Union Mission in Somalia, which has deployed troops to bolster Somalia's government against al-Shabab's insurgency.

One photographer was among those killed and another was injured, according to witnesses.

"I was at the scene of the explosion busy taking photos when a vehicle full of explosives exploded beside me. I fell on the ground and saw part of my body bleeding, I was with another journalist who was killed in the attack," said Feisal Omar, who has since been discharged from the Mogadishu hospital.

The Sahafi Hotel is often frequented by Somali government officials and business executives and it has been targeted before. Two French security advisers were abducted from the hotel by militants in 2009.

Somali police evacuate a man wounded in a blast outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015.
REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali police evacuate a man wounded in a blast outside a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Despite being forced out of Mogadishu and many other cities and towns across Somalia, al Shabab continues to launch lethal attacks in the capital and elsewhere. Al-Shabab is fighting to oust the Mogadishu government and install a strict version of Shariah law.

Al-Shabab have also attacked neighbouring countries that have sent troops to support the Mogadishu government. The extremist rebels killed 148 people in an attack on a college in Garissa, Kenya in April.

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