Attack on Mogadishu hotel: Somali forces end siege

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Somali security forces had been trying to clear the Hayat Hotel of assailants since Friday night when the gunmen stormed the building following gunfire and large explosions in the area.

At least 20 people were killed and at least 50 others injured, police Maj. Yasin Haji told CNN earlier.

A number of fighters had taken hostages and fired at security forces from inside the hotel, Haji said on Saturday.

The attackers had used the hostages “as human shields”, slowing police efforts to end the “terrorist siege”, Haji said. Police cleared the first and top floors first, while the gunmen held their ground on the middle two floors, he said.

The upscale Hayat Hotel is popular with lawmakers and other government officials.

Two security officials, including Mogadishu’s intelligence chief Muhidin Mohamed, were injured in the attack, Major Hassan Dahir, a police officer, told CNN on Friday.

Al-Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on its affiliated online sites, saying its fighters managed to take control of the hotel after battling a path in the building. CNN has not independently confirmed the allegation.
A US airstrike recently killed 13 Al-Shabaab members, according to a US Africa Command statement earlier this week. It is unclear whether Friday’s attack is related to this strike.

On Saturday, the US State Department said it “strongly condemns the Al-Shabaab attack on the Hayat Hotel”.

“We express our sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones, wish a full recovery to those injured and commend the Somali security forces,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Saturday.

“The United States remains steadfast in its support of Somalia-led and African Union-led efforts to fight terrorism and build a secure and prosperous future for the people of Somalia,” he added.

In May, US President Joe Biden decided to redeploy troops to Somalia to support local government and counter Al-Shabaab. The move reversed a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw all US troops from the country.

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