Somalia: security forces put an end to the siege of a hotel by Islamists
Somali security forces put an end to the siege of a hotel in Mogadishu on Saturday evening by Al-Shabaab jihadists, which lasted around 30 hours and caused more than a dozen civilian victims, a senior official told AFP. security manager.
“Security forces have now ended the siege and the gunmen are dead, we have not had any shots fired from the building in the past hour,” the official said on condition of anonymity around midnight. without specifying the number of victims among the civilians and among the assailants.
But according to other Somali officials, at least 13 civilians were killed early in the attack by these al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters.
The establishment was destroyed by a bombardment by the security forces aimed at eliminating the attackers who had entrenched themselves there and must now be rid of all the explosives which could have been 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. .
According to a witness, Hayat Ali, three children from the same family, aged between four and seven, were found by the security forces, in a state of shock, hiding in the hotel toilets.
“I managed to run to a nearby exit, away from the armed men,” said Hussein Ali, present with colleagues in the establishment. “The gunmen started shooting, I could hear the shots behind me, but thank God…we managed to escape.”
But “those who preferred to hide inside the building, including one of my colleagues, died,” he added.
– International condemnations –
It is the largest attack in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, took office in June, after months of political instability.
The Shebab, who have been engaged in an insurrection against the Somali federal government for 15 years, have claimed responsibility for this operation.
“A group of Al-Shabaab assailants forced their way into the Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, the fighters are firing at random inside the hotel,” the group confirmed at the start of the attack in a brief communicated on a favorable website.
Shebab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu-Musab told their station, Radio Andalus, on Saturday that the group had “inflicted heavy losses” on security forces.
Somalia’s allies, including the United States, United Kingdom and Turkey, as well as the United Nations, have strongly condemned the attack.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis), tasked with helping Somali forces secure the country by the end of 2024, has expressed “solidarity” with the Somali government.
“We express our sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones, wish a full recovery to those injured, and commend the Somali security forces,” the US State Department said.
– A “rain of shells” –
A rain of shells also fell on Saturday in another district of the capital, Hamar Jajab, located by the sea, injuring 20 including children, commissioner Mucawiye Muddey told AFP.
“Among those seriously injured are a young bride and her husband, as well as an entire family, the two parents and their three children, he said. These shots 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.
– Intensification of attacks –
Al-Shabaab were driven out of Somalia’s main cities, including Mogadishu in 2011, but remain entrenched in large rural areas. In recent months, they have intensified their attacks.
On Wednesday, the American army announced that it had killed in an airstrike 13 Shebab militiamen who were attacking soldiers of the Somali regular forces in a remote area of this country in the Horn of Africa.
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 decided by his predecessor Donald Trump at the end of his term too risky and ineffective. mandate.
Somalia’s new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said last month that a military approach is insufficient to end the Al-Shabaab insurgency.
In early August, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre announced the appointment of a former Al-Shabaab leader, turned politician, as Minister of Religious Affairs. Muktar Robow, alias Abu Mansour, publicly defected in August 2017 from the movement he helped found.
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