21 dead confirmed dead as Military ends siege to Somali hotel

At least 21 people have been killed in an overnight siege after Islamic militants attacked the Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia.

 

The attack started on Friday evening with explosions outside the hotel before the gunmen entered the building.

 

Ali Haji Adan, the country’s health minister, confirmed the fatality figure on Sunday, adding that 117 people were injured in the attack.

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He said out of the injured people, at least 15 were in critical condition.

 

He said some victims may not have been brought to hospitals.

 

Speaking with journalists in a briefing that took place close to the site of the attack, Abdi Hassan Mohammed Hijra, police commander, said “106 people including children and women” were rescued by security forces during the siege which ended around midnight.

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“I would like to inform all Somalis that the operation at the hotel was concluded at midnight,” Hijra said.

 

“During the attack, the security forces rescued many civilians trapped in the hotel, including women.

 

“It is shocking that innocent people lost their lives here… The security forces were engaged in rescuing people one by one and in groups.”

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The Al-Shabaab extremist group, which has ties with Al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the hotel. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

 

It reportedly took Somali forces more than 30 hours to contain the attackers.

21 dead confirmed dead as Military ends siege to Somali hotel
21 dead confirmed dead as Military ends siege to Somali hotel

The attack on the hotel is the first major terror incident in Mogadishu since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s new president, took over in June.

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In a Twitter post, the US embassy in Somalia said it “strongly condemns” the hotel attack.

 

“We extend condolences to the families of loved ones killed, wish a full recovery to the injured, & pledge continued support for #Somalia to hold murderers accountable & build when others destroy,” the tweet reads.

 

Dozens of people who had been taken hostage in the stand-off at the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu were freed.

 

Elite armed forces battled the militants for 30 hours from Friday evening after the attackers blasted and shot their way into the hotel, which is popular with lawmakers and other government officials.

 

“We have confirmed so far 21 dead people and 117 others injured,” Ali Haji, the minister for health, told national broadcaster SNTV.

 

“It is possible there were corpses that were not taken to hospitals but buried by relatives. The death toll and the casualties are based on the figure taken to hospitals,” the minister added.

 

Three attackers were shot dead during the military operation to end the siege, said Hassan, a police captain who only gave one name.

 

A fourth one was shot dead in the area on Sunday morning as he attempted to melt into the civilian population, Hassan said, adding that the exact number of attackers was still unclear.

 

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group, which has been fighting to topple the government in the Horn of Africa country for more than a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

The attackers shot and killed civilians who fled towards the wall of the hotel compound and its blown-up gate after they struck, said a police captain who gave only the name Ahmed, adding that they killed 10 security personnel with firearms and grenades.

 

Aden Ali, a survivor, told Reuters that he was drinking a cup of tea at the hotel when he heard the first blast. He ran towards the compound wall with others as the militants fired at them.

 

“We were many on the run, over a dozen. When I went out of the hotel, I could see eight of us. Maybe the rest died in the shooting,” Ali said.

 

Another group of people in the hotel fled to an upper floor, where they were killed by the militants who first blew up the stairs to prevent escape, Ali said.

 

Security forces managed to free some of those who locked themselves in their rooms in the upper floors after several hours, he said.

 

Some 106 people were freed, including women and children, a senior police commander said.

 

Residents were milling around the bombed out hotel on Sunday. The building was extensively damaged.

 

“We are still investigating the explosions of many plastic bags that have been scattered around the hotel,” said Mohamed Ali, a military officer at the scene.

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