Somalia: Al-Shabaab siege at Tawakal Hotel ended by Jubaland forces


KISMAYO, Somalia - Elite Jubaland troops have reportedly ended the Al-Shabaab siege at Tawakal Hotel in Kismayo, state media announced, just after about 8 hours of intensive gunfight involving armed men and the regional troops, who have since been lauded for restoration of order.

Throughout this period, security forces struggled to gain access to the hotel as the gunmen battled from inside, making it almost impossible for security forces to access the epicenter of the battle. Al-Shabaab militants had earlier taken responsibility for the attack.

Before the siege ended, authorities in Kismayo noted that the hotel is frequented by local elders and business owners and that there is a huge possibility the group targeted them. The government recently warned business owners against falling into the Al-Shabaab extortion agenda.

The Minister of Security of Jubbaland Yusuf Hussein Osman (Dhumal), said that the security forces prevented the damage from increasing, saying that within a few hours, they killed three armed men who entered the hotel.

The Minister said that nine are dead and 47 were wounded, adding that most of the casualties were caused by the car bomb explosion at the gate.

State media reports that dozens of civilians who were trapped inside the hotel have since been rescued, adding that no soldier died or got injured in the operation which was almost the second longest after that of Hayat Hotel within the capital Mogadishu.

"Jubaland security forces end siege Hotel Tawakal in coastal town Kismayo, neutralizing all Al-Shabab terrorists involved in the assault; rescued scores of civilians trapped inside the building after suicide bomber blow himself at the gate. No casualties so far on troops," read the tweet.

The deputy chief of the Jubaland Police, Mohamed Nasi Guled, who was in the vicinity of the attacked hotel in Kismayo said three [3] Al-Shabab gunmen were inside the building as security forces battled with them. He called on residents to calm down and businesses to remain open.

Jubaland's Minister of Finance Hussein Hirsi Ahmed said: "We will win against the ruthless group [AlShabab] that attacked Kismayo". This was the first time the militants were attacking Jubaland state in as many months due to heightened security operations in the country.

The government of Somalia has activated operations against the Al-Shabaab across the country, with more locals now joining the war in central and southern parts of the country. hundreds of militants have been killed with the soldiers managing to liberate several villages so far.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has asked locals to work closely with security forces, noting that the clan militia has to a larger extent helped tame the militants. Stakeholders insist that the war will be won both militarily and ideologically, a move which triggered the government to unveil a hotline that will be used to report the extortionists.

As part of motivation at Moqokori village in central Somalia, Hiran region's governor Ali Jeite handed over $10,000 to Somali soldiers as a reward after killing two Al-Shabab fighters, seizing their AK-47s and a car they were traveling in last week after an ambush.


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