Somali police said on Saturday that nine civilians were killed and 10 others wounded in a six-hour siege by Islamist al-Shabaab militants at a beachfront hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Al Qaeda-linked jihadists have been waging an insurgency against the internationally-backed federal government for more than 15 years and have frequently targeted hotels that tend to host top Somali and foreign officials.
“Six civilians were martyred in the attack… and ten others were wounded. Three brave members of the security forces were martyred during the rescue operation,” the Somali Police Force said in a statement.
The attack, for which al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, began just before 8pm on Friday (1700 GMT) when seven attackers stormed the Pearl Beach Hotel, a popular location on the Lido beach along Mogadishu’s coast.
Police said the attack ended at around 2 a.m. after fierce fighting between the security forces and the militants, who were all killed during the battle.
“The security forces managed to rescue 84 people, including women, children and the elderly,” the statement added.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing gunfire and explosions at the hotel on Lido Beach.
“I was near the Pearl Beach restaurant when (a) a huge explosion occurred in front of the building,” Abdul Rahim Ali, one of the witnesses, told AFP.
“I managed to escape, but heavy gunfire rang out after that, and the security forces rushed to the area,” he added.
Yassin Nour He was at the restaurant and told AFP it was “full of people as it was recently renovated”.
“I am worried because there are several of my colleagues who have gone there and two of them are not answering their phones,” he said.
An AFP reporter saw several ambulances parked nearby.
total war
The attack on Lido beach highlighted the endemic security problems in the Horn of Africa country as it struggles to emerge from decades of conflict and natural disaster.
Al-Shabaab, which was driven out of Somalia’s main towns and cities by the African Union force, still controls large swathes of the countryside and continues to launch attacks against security and civilian targets, including in the capital.
Last year, the President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud waged “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab, rallying Somalis to help expel members of the jihadist group he described as “bugs”.
His pledge came after 21 people were killed and 117 wounded in an Al-Shabaab siege of a hotel in Mogadishu in August 2022 that lasted 30 hours.
This attack raised serious questions about the security forces failing to protect a heavily guarded administrative district.
Two months later, two car bombings in Mogadishu killed 121 people and wounded 333, in the deadliest attack the country has seen in five years.
The army and militias known as “Mkawezele” have in recent months recaptured large swathes of territory in the center of the country in an operation supported by the African Union Mission (ATMIS) and US airstrikes.
But last month, al-Shabaab militants killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers in an attack on an African Union base in the southern town of Bulo Marer.
In August 2020, Al-Shabaab launched a large-scale attack on the Elite Hotel, another hotel on the Lido beach popular with officials, killing 10 civilians and a police officer.
It took security forces four hours to regain control of the site in that attack.
The United Nations said in November that at least 613 civilians were killed and 948 wounded in violence in Somalia last year, most of them caused by improvised explosive devices attributed to al-Shabaab.
The numbers were the highest since 2017 and an increase of more than 30 percent from the previous year.


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