Brazen Hotel Attack May Signal Dangerous New Phase

Al-Shabab stormed Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu after new president warns of crackdown
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2022 9:01 AM CDT
Brazen Attack on Hotel Is Over in Capital City
Damage is seen on top of the Hayat Hotel in the capital city of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Somali authorities on Sunday ended a deadly attack in which 21 people were killed and dozens more wounded when gunmen stormed a hotel in the capital, per the AP. It took Somali forces more than 30 hours to contain the fighters who had stormed Mogadishu's Hayat Hotel on Friday evening in an assault that started with loud explosions. The siege ended around midnight, police commissioner Abdi Hassan Hijar told reporters. “During the attack, the security forces rescued many civilians trapped in the hotel, including women and children," he said.

Health Minister Dr. Ali Haji Adam reported 21 deaths and 117 people wounded, with at least 15 in critical condition. Police are yet to give a detailed explanation of how the attack unfolded and it remains unclear how many gunmen entered the hotel. The Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has ties with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest of its frequent attempts to strike places visited by government officials. Al-Shabab opposes the federal government and the outsiders who support it. The attack on the hotel is the first major terror incident in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took over in May.

Somalia’s previous president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, avoided any major confrontation with al-Shabab. But Mohamud has said his government will take the offensive against the group’s thousands of fighters, with the backing of returning US forces. Al-Shabab charged via its Andalus radio station that the attack on the hotel was in response to Mohamud's assertion that he would eliminate the group from Somalia. Al-Shabab remains the most lethal Islamic extremist group in Africa.

(More Mogadishu stories.)

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