What you need to know:
- Direct confrontations and exchange of fire was still going on Saturday afternoon, more than 24 hrs after the militants first ambushed patrons at Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu
The Somali capital Mogadishu was on Saturday still fighting shock after al-Shabaab militants laid siege on a popular hotel, targeting civilians.
Direct confrontations and exchange of fire was still going on Saturday afternoon, more than 24 hrs after the militants first ambushed patrons at Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu.
By Saturday evening, the actual number of casualties was unknown although officials had earlier given a partial figure of at least 20 civilians killed in the attack.
Soon after they attacked the Hotel with explosions, followed by gunmen, Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked terror group, claimed responsibility for the assault.
The Hayat Hotel attack is the first since the former administration of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was replaced by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud who was elected in mid-May this year.
Situated on the way to Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport and next to the busy KM4 roundabout that links Villa Somalia, the state house to the airport, Hayat Hotel is in a very strategic position.
The Mayor of Mogadishu, Omar Mohamed Filish, and a group of administration officials, went to the scene to witness what was going on and to encourage the government forces that comprised of the elite anti-terrorism Alpha Group, the Harama’ad Police unit and agents from the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) contain and clear the attackers.
While some emergency groups have been allowed to go near the area, the media was relatively kept a bit far off.
By Saturday afternoon nearly 100 people were reported wounded. The management of Madina Hospital, the largest referral hospital in Mogadishu, affirmed receiving up to 40 injured persons shuttled from the hotel by mid-morning Saturday.
Dr Mohamed Abdirahman Jama said, “We received 40 patients with wounds, 31 of them admitted while 9 of them released after treatment,” adding that the wounded include 6 children while msny of the injured are suffering from shocks.
Considering the circumstances, information trickling from the hotel indicate that it is difficult of say affirm the casualties, the dead and the wounded still trapped in the compound.
Legislators, army officers and members of the general public frequent the hotel, particularly over the weekends.
Several hours after the assault on the hotel started, at least 5 rounds of mortar shells landed near General Kahiye Police Academy in Hamar Jajab district in Cemtral Mogadishu, affecting civilian neighbourhoods. They are supposed to have been fired by Al-Shabaab militants.
Reports indicate that several families were affected by the shells that were meant to harm the police academy.
So far, no official Somali government has been released on the parallel attacks.