At least 16 dead after Somalian forces end siege at Mogadishu hotel

Civilians assist an injured person at Madina hospital after a blast at the Elite Hotel in Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Aug 16, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS
Smoke can be seen rising after gunmen stormed an upscale beachfront hotel in Somalia’s capital on Aug 16, 2020. PHOTO: SOMALIWEYN_/TWITTER

MOGADISHU (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Somalian security forces ended a siege on Sunday (Aug 16) at the popular hotel in Mogadishu's Lido beach that left at least 16 people dead and more than 13 others injured.

All five gunmen involved in the attack were killed, police spokesperson Sadiq Adam Ali said at a news conference at the hotel.

The attackers blew up a vehicle loaded with explosives before fighting their way into the newly built Elite hotel, located at the edge of Lido beach, an area frequented by senior officials.

The attack is the second by Islamist insurgents on a highly fortified target in the Somali capital this week.

Militant group al Shabaab claimed the attack on the Elite Hotel.

The hotel is owned by Abdullahi Mohamed Nor, a lawmaker and ex-finance minister and frequented by many government officials, government workers and people from the Somali diaspora.

"There were officials of (President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo's) government inside the hotel when we attacked," said a statement broadcast on al Shabaab's Radio Andalus.

The attack follows an uprising at Mogadishu's central prison on Monday. State news agency SONNA reported that at least 15 prisoners and four guards were killed when Somali security forces beat back the rebellion.

A witness, Ahmed Ali, said on Sunday he had heard "a huge blast at the hotel, gunfire followed, and then clouds of smoke".

"So far we confirmed seven people died, including two attackers, two junior directors and three civilians,"information ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar told Reuters.

"Fifteen people were injured and the operation is still going on." Aamin ambulance service head Abdikadir Abdirahman had earlier told Reuters the service had transported 28 injured people from the scene before exchanges of gunfire started.

The Elite Hotel in Mogadishu. PHOTO: ELITE HOTEL/FACEBOOK

Hotel owner Nor posted on his Facebook page after escaping the building: "May Allah have mercy on all those who died in the attack by the terrorists on civilians particularly on Elite Hotel in which I was in."

Mohamed Nur, a government worker who lives near Lido beach, said government security forces had been deployed to stop the attack. "The exchange of gunfire is terrible and stray bullets reached us near the beach," he added.

Somalia has been embroiled in deadly violence since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew leader Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Since 2008, al Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-recognised central government and establish its rule based on its own interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

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