Sunday 21 January 2018

23 dead as Somalia police end night-long siege of hotel

Rescue workers stand near the wreckage of vehicles in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, Oct 29, 2017, after a car bomb was detonated Saturday night. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Rescue workers stand near the wreckage of vehicles in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, Oct 29, 2017, after a car bomb was detonated Saturday night. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage of vehicles in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, Oct 29, 2017, after a car bomb detonated Saturday night. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Armed soldiers talk each other in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, Oct 29, 2017, after a car bomb detonated Saturday night.(AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Rescue workers stand near the wreckage of vehicles in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, Oct 29, 2017, after a car bomb was detonated Saturday night.. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Residents gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali security assess the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Residents gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali security officers assess the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A Somali woman mourns at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali security officers and rescuers are seen at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali security officers secure the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali soldier walk near wreckage of vehicles after a car bomb was detonated in Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct 28, 2017. AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Abdi Guled

Somali security forces have ended a night-long siege by at a Mogadishu hotel by five extremists who stormed the building after a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the entrance gate, killing 23 people.

Troops regained control of the Nasa-Hablod hotel on Sunday morning, having killed three attackers and captured two alive, said Captain Mohamed Hussein.

Al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest Islamic extremist group, quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday's outrage, two weeks after more than 350 people were killed by a massive truck bomb in a busy Mogadishu street in Somalia's worst attack.

The assault started on Saturday afternoon when a suicide truck bomb exploded outside the popular hotel in the capital.

Residents gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Residents gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The blast twisted vehicles and caused massive damage to nearby buildings which were left with only their walls standing.

The attackers invaded the hotel and gunfire continued as security forces fought them inside the building. Two more blasts were heard, one when an attacker detonated a suicide vest.

Somali security assess the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somali security assess the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Minister of electricity and water Salim Aliyow Ibrow was rescued from the hotel as heavy gunfire continued in the shoot-out. Some extremists hurled grenades and cut off the building's electricity as night fell.

Included in the dead were a mother and three children, including a baby, all shot in the head, Capt Hussein said. Other victims included a senior Somali police colonel, a former MP and a former government minister.

The bomber had pretended his truck had broken down outside the gate, said police colonel Mohamed Abdullahi, stopping outside the heavily-fortified hotel and pretending to repair the vehicle before detonating it, he said.

Al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu. Although it quickly said it carried out Saturday's attack, it has not commented on the bombing two weeks ago.

Somali soldier walk near wreckage of vehicles after a car bomb was detonated in Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct 28, 2017. AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Somali soldier walk near wreckage of vehicles after a car bomb was detonated in Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct 28, 2017. AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Experts have said the death toll in the earlier bombing was so high that the group hesitated to alienate Somali citizens.

Somalia's president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said the new attack was meant to instil fear in Somalis who united after the October 14 bombing, marching in the thousands through Mogadishu in defiance of al-Shabab.

Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Since that blast, the president has visited regional countries to seek more support for the fight against al-Shabab, vowing a "state of war".

He also faces the challenge of pulling together regional powers inside his long-fractured country, where the government is only now trying to assert itself beyond Mogadishu and other major cities.

Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, at the gate of Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The US military has also stepped up military efforts against al-Shabab this year in Somalia, carrying out nearly 20 drone strikes, as the global war on extremism moves deeper into the African continent.

A 22,000-strong multinational African Union force in Somalia is expected to withdraw its forces and hand over the country's security to the Somali military by the end of 2020.

US military officials and others in recent months have expressed concern that Somali forces are not yet ready to take over.

The two attacks this month have shaken public confidence in the ability of Somali army to take over from the African Union forces. Many in the capital accuse the government of not doing enough to protect them.

"We are drying in hundreds now," said Ahmednur Hashi, a Mogadishu resident. "Who is going to protect us?"

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News