Mogadishu – No fewer than 13 people were killed in a hotel in Somali capital during a faceoff between security forces and al Shabaab gunmen who had stormed the building after two bombs ripped into it, police said.
Ahmed Nur, a police officer, told newsmen that a car bomb rammed the entrance to the hotel and was followed by a second blast, ‘which a security guard said was another vehicle bomb.
He said “after a gun battle lasting several hours, the hotel was cleared of gunmen, and has been entirely secured. The death toll so far is 13.’’
The police said those killed included the hotel owner, a lawmaker, a former senior military commander, a radio journalist and other civilians.
Al Shabaab, which has frequently launched attacks in Mogadishu in its bid to topple the western-backed government, said it was behind the assault on the Sahafi hotel, where government officials and lawmakers stay.
“Mujahideen (fighters) entered and took over Sahafi hotel where enemies lived,” Abdiasis Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told newsmen.
The incident mirrored tactics used before by al Shabaab, in which it detonates bombs to break through security at targets and then sends in fighters.
The government is battling to rebuild the Horn of Africa nation after more than two decades of conflict including insurgency by Al Shabaab, a potent force that has continue to distabilise the nation (Reuters/NAN)