At least 12 people have been killed as a hotel siege in Somalia enters its second day

MOGADISHU, Aug 20 (Reuters) – At least 12 people were killed in an attack by Al Qaeda militants on a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, an intelligence official said on Saturday.

The attackers exploded inside the Hyatt Hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire. Somalia’s Al Shabaab rebels claim responsibility. read more

“So far we have confirmed 12 deaths, mostly civilians,” intelligence official Mohammad told Reuters, giving only one name.

Sign up now for unlimited free access to

Mohammed said the gunmen were holding an unknown number of hostages on the second floor of the building, preventing officers from using heavy weapons.

They bombed the stairwells to make access to some floors difficult, he said.

As the siege entered its second day on Saturday evening, authorities had secured 95% of the building, state broadcaster Somali National Television reported. The broadcaster did not provide an updated death toll.

Kashan, a paramilitary force specializing in counterinsurgency, was among those fighting the militants inside the hotel, a senior official told Reuters.

The explosions sent huge plumes of smoke over a busy intersection on Friday night, and gunfire still rang out across the capital on Saturday evening.

Eyewitnesses said they heard explosions as government forces tried to free the hotel from militants on Friday night.

See also  College football picks, schedule: Predictions against the spread, odds for the first 25 games in Week 12

Large parts of the hotel were destroyed in the fighting, they said.

Friday’s attack was the first major such incident since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist group reports.

Al Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Hyatt Hotel is a popular destination with lawmakers and other government officials. There was no immediate word on whether any of them were caught in the siege.

Sign up now for unlimited free access to

Reporting by Abdi Shaikh By Duncan Miriri Editing by Sam Holmes, Christina Fincher and Francis Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.