15 killed as security forces end 20-hr hotel siege in Mogadishu
Mogadishu : Somali security forces have said they have ended a more than 20-hour siege at a popular hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, that left at least 15 people dead including six attackers. Sadiq Dudishe, Spokesman of the Somali Police Force, on Monday said five of al-Shabab attackers were shot dead, one blew himself up after the militants stormed Villa Rosa Hotel in Mogadishu at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Dudishe added that eight civilians and one soldier were killed and five were wounded in the attack which has been roundly condemned by the international community, Xinhua news agency reported. “Sixty people were safely rescued from the hotel,” he told a televised news conference in Mogadishu.
The heavily fortified hotel is a popular hangout spot for senior government officials, including the business community, and three Ministers were inside the facility at the time of the attack, the police said.
It was unclear how the extremists stormed inside the heavily secured hotel which is near the presidential palace but witnesses said they first heard gunshots at the gates of the hotel before the attackers stormed inside.
Al-Shabab, which has waged nearly two decades of insurgency to topple the internationally-backed government, claimed responsibility for the latest attack, saying its fighters were targeting a gathering of officials inside the hotel.
The latest hotel assault is the third attack by the al-Shabab since the new government took over in May. The militants in August killed 21 people at Hayat hotel in a siege that lasted for 30 hours and an attack on Tawakal Hotel in the southern city of Kismayo in October where 11 people lost their lives.
The Villa Rosa Hotel attack came hours after the government announced that more than 100 al-Shabab extremists were killed in an operation backed by the international partners in the central region, two days over 60 militants were killed in the southern part of the country.
Al-Shabab extremist group was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but it is still capable of conducting attacks, targeting government installations, hotels, restaurants, and public spaces.