The extremist group al-Shabaab has been trying to topple the Western-backed government for years to impose its strict interpretation of Islam on the country.
At least 13 people are dead and dozens more injured after an al-Qaeda-linked group rammed a car bomb into a hotel in Somalia’s capital that’s popular with government officials and businessmen Wednesday morning.
Following the car’s explosion at the gates of the Dayah Hotel, near Somalia’s parliament in central Mogadishu, armed militants stormed the building and exchanged fire with security guards, Al Jazeera reported. After ambulances and reporters arrived, a second blast shook the area, wounding at least four reporters, according to AFP news agency.
Dozens of people, including politicians, were at the hotel during the attack.
Car Bomb Hits Somali Capital
“At least 13 people, including forces and civilians, died in two blasts at the hotel. A dozen others were injured,” Major Mohamed Ahmed, a police officer, told Reuters, adding that the death toll could still rise.
Colonel Abdiqadir Hussein, another police officer, later told Reuters that security forces eventually managed to secure the building.
“We have rescued the people and concluded the operation at Dayah hotel. The security forces are now inside the hotel and we shall give further details of casualty later,” he said.
Andalus radio, an online broadcasting system used by the extremist group, was quick to report that al-Shabaab was responsible for the suicide attack, noting that “Well-armed mujahideen (fighters) attacked the hotel and now they are fighting inside.”
The group had been in control of the capital and much of Somalia until 2011, when African Union troops and Somali forces pushed them out of some key urban strongholds after years of fighting, though it remains active in rural areas, Reuters reported.
The extremist insurgent group al-Shabaab has been trying to topple the Western-backed government for years to impose its strict interpretation of Islam on the country.
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On Tuesday, suspected al-Shabaab militants attacked the Equity Bank and residence of Deputy Governor Omar Maalim in the town of Mandera, killing seven four soldiers and seven police officers in the process, VOA News reported. The town was also attacked on Monday.
Fourteen other people were killed in another attack in June, two weeks after gunmen killed 15 people, including two members of parliament, at the Ambassador hotel, according to The Independent.
Other examples abound, as the extremist group has been engaged in a bloody war with African Union troops for years.
Somalia, which was under British colonial rule for more than 60 years ending in late 1960s, is one of the largest targets for Washington’s drone program that has been accused of killing civilians and having very loose guidelines on collateral damage.