Somali security forces 'neutralise' Al Shabab militants after Mogadishu hotel attack

Al Qaeda-linked group had stormed Syl Hotel, popular with government officials

The SYL hotel in Mogadishu. Al Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack on the site in 2019. AP
Powered by automated translation

Somali security forces "neutralised" militants who attacked a popular hotel in the capital of Mogadishu, Somali National Television said on Friday.

Security services were earlier seen surrounding the Syl Hotel, a place frequented by government officials and lawmakers, after the attack claimed by Al Shabab militants.

It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties.

Gunmen had stormed the hotel in Mogadishu near the presidential palace at about 9.45pm local time on Thursday.

The attack had come after two explosions in the city, witnesses said.

"Several gunmen forced their way into the building after destroying the perimeter wall with a heavy explosion," security officer Ahmed Dahir told AFP.

Al Shabab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, had taken responsibility for an attack on the same hotel in 2019.

Militants fired shots indiscriminately during the attack, witnesses said. Police and government representatives were not available for comment.

Al Shabab announced on its Telegram channel that its fighters seized the hotel. “The armed mujahideen control the hotel and are shooting workers and officers of the apostate government in the hotel,” the group said in a statement.

Mogadishu resident Hassan Nur escaped the hotel by climbing a wall. “I don't know about the casualties but there were many people inside when the attack started,” he said.

Another resident, Hussein Abdullahi, said soldiers opened fire before the first blast and he also heard the sound of a car travelling at high speed. “And then gunfire followed. A second blast followed. We heard the exchange of gunfire,” he added.

The last major attack in Mogadishu was in October 2022, when at least 121 people were killed in twin car bombings at a busy junction in the city.

Al Shabab remains a threat despite renewed efforts by the Somali government to tackle the group, with the help of other countries in the region. The militant group operates across the Horn of Africa.

The Somali government has since 2022 succeeded in eroding the group's power and control, but Al Shabab continues to launch attacks on government, commercial and military targets.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 12:09 PM