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Popular hotel opens doors in Mogadishu years after Al-Shabaab raid

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A popular hotel in Somalia opened doors three years after a deadly Al-Shabaab attack, a prominent family which owns the facility said, in one of the rare events that give hope to Somalis in the fight against terrorists, who have wreaked havoc in the country for over a decade.

Sahafi Hotel popular with lawmakers, security officials, and politicians, closed doors in 2018 after an Al-Shabaab attack, which left its owner dead along with over 20 people, mostly visitors who were being hosted at the time of the attack.

Two suicide bomb cars went off near the hotel prompting security guards to open fire but their actions were a little bit late, with the impact of the explosion causing a devastating setback. Several other nearby buildings were destroyed with final reports showing that close to 41 people died in the terror attack.

Sahafi Hotel owner Abdifatah Abdirashid, who had died in the attack, was a renowned businessman who took over running the hotel from his father, Abdirashid Mohamed. The father was killed in 2014 in a similar attack but despite the tragedies, the family is determined to defeat terrorism through acts of courage.

On Saturday, the security remained tight at the hotel when it re-opened to members of the public. Business remained usual as hundreds of Somalis trickled into the facility which had been undergoing a major rehabilitation since 2018 as it seeks to regain its past glory, which includes, hosting foreign envoys.

During the civil war in the 1990s, it used to be the only place foreign journalists could be safe amidst the raging war. The country was undergoing tough times following the ouster of dictator Siad Barre, but the country has never returned to normalcy three decades later, due to surging Al-Shabaab attacks.

“The security is much better than where we were, I almost come here for daily for coffee, I also love the view,” Abdi Mohammud, a Mogadishu resident told Dalsan, adding that the hotel could attract many people regardless of its recent dark history, which saw a total of over 20 people killed with its premises.

Hotel Sahafi was the only photo studio in the Mid-1990s where most of the youths in the capital flocked during the weekends for photos and was nicknamed “photo Sahafi”. Al-Shabab said it targeted government officials staying at the hotel, but it did not specify their names or roles in government.

The Al-Shabaab militants have been targeting eateries in Somalia but their attacks have minimized due to upscale security mainly from the African Union Mission troops and the Somali National Army [SNA] within Mogadishu and its environs.

But despite the heightened security, Al-Shabaab can still wage small to large scale sporadic attacks in the country. For instance, the militants attacked the April 12 military base over the weekend, in an attack that leftover eight SNA troops dead according to officials in Mogadishu.

However, the militants lost grip of Mogadishu in 2011 following an operation conducted by the AMISOM troops and the SNA soldiers. Since then, the militants have been operating from the rural suburbs of southern and central Somalia according to a report issued by the United Nations.

Somalia has continued to cooperate with allied forces in the fight against Al-Shabaab, and the government is running an independent parallel campaign through SNA troops as they regain control of the rest of the country. The operation is geared towards eliminating the militants' threat and enabling businesses to thrive.