Al-Shabaab raids Mogadishu hotel, several held hostage
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants on Friday waged a deadly attack in a Mogadishu hotel, multiple eyewitnesses said, in a dramatic version that saw attackers gain access to the facility which is located in the ever busy Lido beach, in the outskirts of the Somali capital.
The militants, state media reported, targeted the ever busy Pearl Hotel near the shores of Indian Ocean, with several people held hostage at the time of press. According to the government, elite police forces are carrying out search and rescue mission, but the militants are still within the hotel.
Somali security forces were still engaging al-Shabaab fighters who have attacked Pearl Beach hotel and restaurant. The al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, a post by affiliate media sites confirmed, in what would yet again possibly destabilize tremendous gains made in security sector.
A police officer told Garowe Online that AlShabaab used suicide explosions to gain access to the hotel on Friday evening at around 8pm local time, targeting its front barrier and gate near the Turkish embassy. The hotel is frequented by top government officials and other ranking members of the society.
Al-Shabaab said its fighters were "carrying out random shootings" after having "forcibly entered" the hotel - described as a popular location for officials and employees of the federal government to meet. It is not yet clear who the group was targeting in this particular attack.
Somali security forces have said they rescued some of the people who were trapped inside a hotel that had been stormed by militants.The attack is the second major terror hotel attack in Mogadishu since Somalia's leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took over in May 2022.
Authorities are yet to disclose the number of fatalities but intensive fighting was still going on, with more security forces surrounding the hotel. Previously, the militants have carried out attacks on senior government officials, security forces and innocent civilians. The attacks against hotels are synonymous within Mogadishu.
A fortnight ago, the militants raided a Uganda-run African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] Forward Operating Base, killing over 54 soldiers. Uganda has since announced crackdown against Al-Shabaab with President Yoweri Museveni insisting that "they must pay for their actions".
The attack comes just moments after over 20 young people died after an unexploded ordinance they found exploded in Muraale village, Lower Shabelle region. Also, Al-Shabaab in the town of Tiyeglow, Bakool region, reported executing five people accused of “spying” for the Somali Government, Ethiopia and United States
On Friday Somalia's ministry of defense confirms it has generated enough forces to takeover responsibilities from 2000 African Union forces who are scheduled to leave the country by the end of this month. Another 3000 will depart later this year as the drawndown takes shape.