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Somalia: Al-Shabaab attacks hotel near presidential palace, several feared dead

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al-Qaida associated Al-Shabaab group on Tuesday evening waged yet another deadly attack targeting eateries in Somalia capital Mogadishu, Garowe Online reports.

Eyewitnesses said the militants disguised themselves as security officers, wearing Somali police uniforms and came in the police car before opening fire indiscriminately inside Hotel SYL.

Security forces are still engaged in a vicious battle with the armed militants with initial reports indicating that the attack has left many casualties.

Abdirizak Mohamed, an MP in federal parliament who also served as internal security and National Planning dockets as a minister, confirmed the attack on his Twitter handle.

In his own accounts, the MP said, one of his colleagues was able to escape from the hotel by jumping over a parameter wall in the hotel.

"Report of Alshabab inside SYL. This was confirmed for me by a federal MP who escaped from the scene by jumping over the wall to Berta Nabadda [peace garden]. There are casualties but numbers not known yet," he said.

It has since emerged that the affected legislator in the deadly attack was Mahad Salad. He confirmed the incident to Voice of America's Somali Service. 

The Al-Shabaab militants have since taken responsibility even though the number of casualties is yet to be established by authorities.

Multiple sources confirmed to Garowe Online that two of the attackers were shot dead by the security guards at the entrance gate while a number of others made way into the building after grenade explosions.

Cases of Al-Shabaab militants targeting businesses are synonymous across East Africa. Early this year, the militants attacked a Kismayo hotel killing over 27 people.

In January, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility in the attack at Dusit D2 Hotel in Nairobi which left over 21 people dead.

The latest onslaught could yet again raise doubts about the safety in the capital, despite tremendous progress by AMISOM and SNA forces in securing the area.

Both opposition Forum for National Parties (FNP) and President Mohamed Farmajo agreed in November to consolidate efforts in the war against Al-Shabaab.

However, another opposition leader, Abdirahman Abdishakur, accused the FGS of sympathizing with terrorists, following threats targeting him by jailed Al-Shabaab operative Hassan Dahir.

A report by the United Nations Panel of Experts last months claimed that Al-Shabaab remains a major threat in the Horn of Africa nation.

With the militants reportedly resorting to mafia-style taxation tactics, the FGS is under pressure to contain their threat ahead of 2020/21 polls.

No official communication from the government has been released following the latest attack at SYL hotel, despite it's proximity to Presidential Palace.


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