MOGADISHU (Somalia) • A militant attack on a hotel in Mogadishu ended yesterday after 29 people were killed during a siege lasting nearly 12 hours, police said.
The attack proved once again that insurgents can carry out deadly assaults in the heart of the Somali capital. Twin bombings in Mogadishu just two weeks ago killed at least 358 people, the worst such attacks in the country's history, igniting nationwide outrage.
The government sacked the country's police commander, Mr Abdihakim Dahir Said, and the director general of the National Intelligence Security Agency, Mr Abdullahi Mohamed Ali, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed swiftly condemned the attack, saying it would not halt the country's determination to fight back.
Militant group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack last Saturday.
"I am sure 29 people have died and the death toll may rise," said police officer Abdullahi Nur. He added that at least 12 of the dead were cops and a woman was beheaded, while her three children were shot dead.
Islamist militant group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday. The group wants to overthrow the UN-backed government and impose a strict form of Islamic law.
Three militants were captured alive and two others blew themselves up after they were shot, police said. Some militants may have disguised themselves and escaped with those being rescued from the hotel, said a police officer.
The attack began at about 5pm last Saturday, when a car packed with explosives rammed into the gates of Nasa Hablod Two hotel, which is close to the presidential palace. A minibus also exploded at a junction nearby.
The explosions destroyed the front of the three-storey hotel and damaged the hotel next door. Gunmen then stormed the building.
Mr Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulances, claimed that the emergency service had been denied access to the blast site. He said: "After the operation was over, we wanted to transport the casualties. All entrances were blocked by security forces."
Al Shabaab said 40 people had been killed, including three of its fighters who stormed the hotel. The government and Al Shabaab typically give different figures for victims in such attacks.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE