Somalia: Militants attack hotel in capital Mogadishu

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Somalia: Militants attack hotel in capital Mogadishu

Mogadishu, MAR 15: Militants from the Al-Shabaab group, backed by Al-Qaeda, have accepted responsibility for attacking the SYL hotel near the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, on Thursday, AFP reported.

Gunmen stormed the popular hotel which hosts prominent figures all year round, at 9:45pm, local time.

According to security officer Ahmed Dahir: “Several gunmen forced their way into the building after destroying the perimeter wall with a heavy explosion.”

Witnesses reported blasts and heavy gunfire coming from the hotel. Up till now no casualties have been reported.

Hassan Nur who escaped by scaling a wall, said, “I don’t know about the casualties but there were many people inside when the attack started.”

According to national news agency SONNA, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met defense officials in a “strategic meeting” to discuss the battle against al-Shabab.

The Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists have been waging an insurgency against the internationally backed federal government for more than 16 years and have often targeted hotels, which tend to host high-ranking Somali and foreign officials.

Although the militants were driven out of the capital by an African Union force, they retain a strong presence in rural Somalia and regularly carry out attacks against political and civilian targets, including in Mogadishu.

The beleaguered central government launched a major offensive against the Islamists in August 2022, joining forces with local clan militias.

But the offensive has suffered setbacks despite early gains.