Somalia forces battling to end overnight Mogadishu hotel siege
Somali security forces are still battling Al-Shabaab terrorists at a besieged hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, some 15 hours after the attack began, officials said on Monday, Anadolu News Agency reports.
According to local media reports, at least four people have been killed at the Villa Rose Hotel, which was stormed by attackers on Sunday night.
Somali authorities are yet to confirm the casualty count.
“The attack started with explosions, followed by gunfire inside the hotel. We are trying to end the siege,” a security official in Mogadishu told Anadolu Agency, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Samra Mohamed, who lives near the hotel, told Anadolu Agency that she was “still hearing heavy gunfire and sometimes heavy explosions.”
Lawmakers and government officials frequent the Villa Rose, which is a short walk from the Presidential Palace in central Mogadishu, in one of the city’s most protected areas.
Some officials were present when the attack started and managed to escape unharmed.
A police statement said security forces rescued scores of people, including civilians and officials.
Adam Aw Hirsi, Somalia’s State Minister for Environment, said on Twitter that he was safe after a “terrorist explosion targeted at (sic) my residence”.
Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, being one of the main threats.
Since at least 2007, Al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces, claiming thousands of lives.
The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by Al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh groups.
There were at least 1,518 civilian casualties — 651 killed and 867 injured — in terrorist attacks in Somalia in 2018, followed by 1,459–591 killed and 868 injured — in 2019, according to UN estimates.