24 killed in Al-Shabab attack
MOGADISHU: Blood spattered utensils, bullet-pocked walls and overturned chairs marked the reception area of Maka Al-Mukarramah Hotel on Saturday, following an attack by Islamic rebel group al-Shabab that killed at least 24, including the six attackers.
A military police woman takes pictures of three bodies of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militants at the Maka Al-Mukarramah Hotel in Mogadishu after Somali security forces killed them. Pic/AFP
Twelve hours after the gunmen launched siege, the Somali special forces announced full control of the situation. “The operation has ended. We have taken full control of the hotel,” senior police officer Capt Mohamed Hussein said, adding that security forces found four more bodies in the hotel earlier on Saturday, plus nine dead on Friday. Four more people died in the hospital, according to Duniya Mohamed, a doctor at Madina hospital in Mogadishu. Hussein Ali, an official of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, said 28 people were wounded.
Somalia’s ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Yusuf Bari-Bari, was among those killed in the attack.
The hotel is popular with Somali government officials and foreigners. Al-Shabab controlled much of Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011, but was pushed out by African Union forces.
The attack started at around 4 pm on Friday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car at the gate of the hotel and the gunmen quickly moved in.
Hours later, the militants were still holed up in the hotel’s dark corridors and rooms.
Sporadic gunfire could be heard, but it appeared that the security forces waited until daybreak before trying again to dislodge the militants.
They stormed into the first, second and third floors of where rooms are located and held several people hostage.
Al-Shabab frequently carries out suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks in Mogadishu, the seat of Somalia's Western-backed government.
Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia’s government and remains a threat in the East African region.
The group has carried out attacks in neighbouring countries, including Kenya, whose military is part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak government from al-Shabab insurgency.
At least 67 people were killed in a September 2013 attack by al-Shabab on a mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.