MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab said former Defense Minster and renowned army officer was prime target of 10 hour-long siege its fighters had laid at an upscale hotel in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday.
Somali troops have ended a siege at Afrik hotel in the center of Mogadishu, though Islamists pinned down security forces for more than 10 hours using grenades and other weapons. Residents living in nearby neighborhoods stayed awake for the whole night as loud explosions and gunfire ringing out could be heard much of the city.
Somali police spokesman told local media that 9 people were killed and many more wounded in the attack.
In a statement published by affiliated media, the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed former Defense Minister and veteran army officer Mohamed Nur Galal was the prime target of Afrik hotel siege.
General Galal was one of the generals who had led Somali troops during the 1977 offensive to take the Ogaden region in eastern Ethiopia. He also played a leading role in Siad Barre’s military operations against SNM rebels in northern Somalia in the late 1980s in the course of which hundreds of thousands civilians were massacred and major cities including Hargeisa were razed.
Militants alleged that the retired general was behind the killing of one of Al-Shabaab’s founding fathers Adan Hashi Airo who died in US airstrike in the town of Dhusamareb in 2008. They also noted that he was involved in other plots against them including the mobilization of Ethiopia-backed Sufi militias who managed to drive the Al-Qaeda-affiliate from several cities in Galgadud region.
Somali government, Qatar and Turkey have condemned the attack and sent condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the assault.
The exact number of casualties has not been clear, though officials with ambulance services confirmed it was far greater than the government’s estimates. Al-Shabaab put the death toll at 23, adding that 40 others wounded as a result of its bombing and gun attack.
It is the deadliest militant hotel siege in Mogadishu in 2021 and it comes as tensions over upcoming elections continue to simmer in the city.
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