In Somalia, security forces bomb a hotel to dislodge Islamists

In Somalia, security forces bomb a hotel to dislodge Islamists

The ruins of a section of the Hayat Hotel, attacked by militants from the Al-Shabab group.

Somali security forces on Saturday ended the siege, which lasted a Thirty hours and caused more than a dozen civilian victims, by Shebab jihadists from a hotel in Mogadishu, a senior official told AFP around midnight.

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Security forces have now ended the siege and the gunmen are dead, we haven't had any shots fired from the building in the past hour, the official said under the cover of a statement. anonymity, adding that the government would speak to the press about the bloody attack on Sunday morning.

At least 13 civilians were killed at the start of this attack launched Friday evening by these fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda, according to a report announced Saturday midday.

The official did not specify, at the end of the occupation of the Hayat hotel, the number of casualties among the civilians and among the attackers.

The establishment was destroyed by a bombardment by the security forces aimed at eliminating the attackers who had entrenched themselves there, but the official stressed that it must now be cleared of all explosives which could have be placed there.

Scores of people were trapped when the assault began and although officials said dozens were rescued, including children, it is unclear how many remained. inside.

Somali security guards deployed at Hayat Hotel.

According to a witness, three children from the same family, Hayat Ali, aged four to seven, were found by security forces in a state of shock hiding in the hotel toilet. /p>

I managed to run to a nearby exit, away from the armed men, said Hussein Ali, present with his colleagues in the establishment.

“The gunmen started shooting, I could hear the shots behind me, but thank God [… ] we managed to escape.

—Hussein Ali

But those who preferred to hide inside the building, including one of my colleagues, are dead, he added.

Unverified photos leaked online show security guards walking through piles of rubble and reports of extensive damage to the hotel.

It is the largest attack in Mogadishu since Somalia's new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took office in June, following months of political instability.

Al-Shabaab, which has been engaged in an insurgency against the Somali federal government for 15 years, has claimed responsibility for this operation.

A group of Al-Shabaab assailants broke into the Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, the fighters are carrying out random shootings inside the hotel, the group had confirmed earlier this week. the attack in a brief statement on a favorable website.

Shebab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu-Musab told their station, Radio Andalus, on Saturday that the group had inflicted heavy casualties on security forces.

Somalia's allies, including the US, UK and Turkey, as well as the UN, have strongly condemned the attack.

A security official, Mohamed Abdikadir, told AFP midday on Saturday that the number of civilians confirmed dead was 13, while a police officer, Ibrahim Duale, spoke of more than 10 people killed.

A section of the Hayat hotel heavily damaged by Shebab Islamists.

A rain of shells also fell on Saturday in another district of the capital, Hamar Jajab, located by the sea, injuring 20, including children, the commissioner told AFP. Mucawiye Muddey.

Those seriously injured include a bride and her husband, as well as an entire family, both parents and their three children, he said.< /p>

These shootings were not immediately claimed. According to the director of Mogadishu's main hospital, Dr Mohamed Abdirahman Jama, at least 40 people were being treated after being injured in the two weekend attacks.

Shabaab were driven out of Somalia's main cities, including Mogadishu in 2011, but remain entrenched in large rural areas.

These last months, they have intensified their attacks.

On Wednesday, the American army announced that it had killed in an airstrike 13 Al-Shabaab militiamen who were attacking soldiers of the Somali regular forces in a remote area of ​​this country in the Horn of Africa. /p>

In May, US President Joe Biden decided to re-establish a military presence in Somalia to fight the Shebab there, approving a request from the Pentagon which deemed the rotation system too risky and ineffective decided by his predecessor Donald Trump at the end of his term.

Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said last month that a military approach is insufficient to end to the Al-Shabaab insurrection.

In early August, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre announced the appointment of a former Al-Shabaab leader, now a politician, to the post of Minister of Religious Affairs. Muktar Robow, alias Abu Mansour, publicly defected in August 2017 from the movement he helped found.

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