Islamist gunmen kill at least 29 in 12-hour siege after storming hotel
An Islamist attack on a hotel in Mogadishu ended yesterday after 29 people were killed during a siege lasting nearly 12 hours, police said.
The attack proved again that insurgents can carry out deadly assaults in the heart of the Somali capital. Twin bombings in Mogadishu two weeks ago killed more than 350, the worst such attacks in the country's history.
The Islamist militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for this weekend's attack. The government responded by sacking two of the country's top security officials.
"So far I am sure 29 people died - the death toll may rise," Abdullahi Nur, a police officer, said. At least 12 of the dead were police officers, he added. A woman, Madobe Nunow, was beheaded while her "three children were shot dead," he said.
A witness saw seven bodies lying inside the hotel.
Three militants were captured alive and two others blew themselves up after they were shot, police said.
Some militants may have disguised themselves and escaped with the residents who were rescued from the hotel. The attack began at around 5pm on Saturday when a car bomb rammed the gates of Nasahablod Two hotel, close to the presidential palace, and destroyed the hotel's defences. Then gunmen stormed the building.
The explosion destroyed the front of the three-storey hotel and damaged the hotel next door. Many Somali officials live in fortified hotels for the security they offer.