Five dead in attack on Mogadishu hotel

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 16, 2020

At least eight people including officials and civilians were killed and more than 17 wounded on Sunday when a vehicle bomb blast targeted a popular hotel in Somali's capital Mogadishu, officials said.

A police officer named Adan Ibrahim told AFP that a "car bomb" caused the explosion and "heavy gunfire" was heard from inside the hotel.

Details on the attack are still coming in.

Aamin ambulance service head Abdikadir Abdirahman said at least 28 people had been hurt.

In addition to the five victims, three assailants were killed - one in the auto bomb explosion and the other two in a shootout with security forces, according to a security source who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but it was similar to others carried out by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda.

The Elite Hotel is regularly frequented by locals and foreigners since it is based in a heavily protected area in the city. "Among the dead is one director of the information ministry", state news agency SONNA said, citing information ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar.

"There is chaos and people are fleeing from nearby buildings", he said.

Somalia has been embroiled in deadly violence since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew leader Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Police officials who spoke to Anadolu Agency over the phone say security forces are still battling gunmen inside the hotel.

Al-Shabaab was driven out of the capital in 2011, but its militants continue to wage war against the government, carrying out regular attacks.

Last week four Al-Shabaab fighters held in Mogadishu's central prison were killed in an intense shootout with security forces after they somehow managed to get their hands on weapons within the facility. The situation has been further complicated by Al-Shabaab militants, who are staging numerous attacks across the country in an attempt to impose a radical version of Sharia law in the country.

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