Somalia’s longest hotel siege comes to end, 21 confirmed dead – minister

Police officers stand guard near Hayat Hotel, the scene of an al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group militant attack, in Mogadishu, Somalia August 21, 2022. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s security forces ended a more than 30-hour Al-Shabaab siege of an upscale hotel in Mogadishu that saw the death of at least 21 people, the Minister of Health said on Sunday.

Somali police chief Abdi Hassan Hijar said early on Sunday that security forces had ended the attack and that 106 hostages had been freed. He did not give information about the number of assailants involved in the attack.

Hundreds of special security forces deployed since Friday evening had failed to bring an end to the attack until late on Saturday night. Reports emerged on Sunday evening suggesting that Somali spy chief Mahad Salad had ordered security forces to flatten the concrete compound that sparked fear of possible death of people trapped inside.

Huge explosions were heard inside the complex from Friday night until midnight on Saturday as security forces fired artillery and other heavy weaponry to demolish parts of the hotel where Al-Shabaab gunmen had barricaded themselves. There were unconfirmed reports that US drones had fired missiles targeting the hotel.

Speaking on Sunday, Somali Minister of Health confirmed casualties inflicted by the assault.

“We have confirmed so far 21 dead people and 117 others injured,” Ali Haji, the Somali Minister of Health, told state broadcaster SNTV.

“It is possible there were corpses that were not taken to hospitals but buried by relatives. The death toll and the casualties are based on the figure taken to hospitals,” he added.

A police official told Reuters news agency that militants killed 10 security personnel with firearms and grenades.

Al-Qaeda-aligned Al-Shabaab militant group, which has been fighting to topple Western-backed Somali government for more than 15 years, said it had killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 107 others. Media affiliated with insurgents reported that a number of fighters had been safely pulled out from the hotel on Saturday.

A well-known traditional leader Mohamed Hassan Haad and an MP Osman Hadole blamed Somali president’s declaration of war against Al-Shabaab without any preparation for the deadly hotel attack. They called on the government to rectify its mistakes.

The United States, the United Nations and Britain condemned the attack on Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, which came weeks after Somali Prime Minister formed a new cabinet, including the former spokesman of the rebel group Mukhtar Robow.

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