Hotel attack in Mogadishu kills at least 15
Extremist fighters attacked a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people and injuring more than 50 others, according to official sources.
The assault on the Dayah Hotel started when a suicide car bomb exploded at its gates. A second explosion followed. Militants then opened fire and tried to enter the hotel.
According to witnesses, the first explosion took place a few minutes past 08:00. About 15 minutes later, another vehicle went off outside the hotel.
Some buildings and parked cars near the hotel were destroyed. Several journalists from international news agencies were injured in the second blast.
“We as journalists rushed to the scene of the blast immediately after the first explosion. It’s the second blast that caught us by surprise. There were concerns that the vehicle was laden with explosives. But before the bomb experts arrived, it went off, injuring me and 10 other media workers,” said Farah Abdi Warsameh, a journalist from the Associated Press.
Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed said that security officers had ended the siege and shot dead all the attackers.
Two prominent Somali elders were among those killed in the attack. The injured have been taken to the hospital.
“We are trying our best to deal with the serious cases. We have attended to more than 30 cases, but we have received three patients who are currently in critical condition,” said Mohamed Yusuf, director-general of the Madina Hospital.
Witnesses and medical sources said they expected the death toll to rise.
Some newly elected members of parliament were inside the hotel at the time of the attack, but the security minister said they were safe.
Located near the federal parliament building, the Dayah hotel is frequented by government officials and lawmakers.
Somalia’s homegrown al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attack, which came at a time when the country is preparing to hold an election for lawmakers to choose a new president.
Al-Shabab has been battling the Somali government for a decade. It has been driven out of major towns by African Union forces in the past years, but still frequently targets hotels and other public places often visited by government officials and foreigners in the country.
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