At Least 4 Killed As Al-Shabaab Militants Storm Hotel In Somalia's Capital

At Least 4 Killed As Al-Shabaab Militants Storm Hotel In Somalia's Capital

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – At least four people were killed in an ongoing attack by Al-Shabaab militants who besieged a well-known hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, overnight, a security agency official said on Monday.

More than 12 hours after the militants assaulted the hotel next to the presidential palace in a spray of gunshots, gunfire and explosions were still audible.

Mohamed Dahir, an official from the national security agency, told AFP the gunmen were holed up in a room at the Villa Rose surrounded by government forces.

"So far we have confirmed the deaths of four people", he said, adding that others had been rescued from the besieged venue. "Very soon the situation will return to normal."

Government officials were among others injured, he added.

The Villa Rose is frequented by parliamentarians and located in a secure central part of the capital just a few blocks from the office of Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with al Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia's central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia's recently-elected government has pursued a policy of "all-out war" against the militants.

The Somali government's offensive has also drawn retribution.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others. It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.

At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces were able to overpower the militants inside.

The United Nations said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab. The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30% rise from last year.