Death toll from the fatal siege of a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, by the al-Shabab Takfiri militant group has gone up to 21.
Health Minister Ali Haji Adan said on Sunday that the ministry “has so far confirmed the death of 21 people and 117 people wounded” in the terrorist attack by the al-Qaeda-linked group on Hayat Hotel.
And, police commissioner Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijar told reporters that “106 people including children and women” had been rescued by security forces during the 30-hour siege, which ended around midnight. “The casualties mostly happened in the early hours of the attack, after that security forces spent time rescuing people individually and room by room.”
The gun and bomb attack began on Friday evening and lasted over a day. The hotel was a favored meeting spot for government officials and lawmakers. It was the first major incident in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May, with a declared challenge of struggling to crush the 15-year militancy by al-Shabab.
Mohamud said last month that ending the militancy required more than a military approach. He, however, said the government would negotiate only when the time was right.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu-Musab told the group’s Andalus radio earlier Saturday that its forces had “inflicted heavy casualties.”
Al-Shabab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for over a decade in an attempt to establish its own rule in the country. The group has launched strikes on the Ethiopian border in the recent past. An African Union force pushed the militants out of the capital in 2011. The group, however, still controls swathes of countryside and is able to launch deadly strikes on political, civilian, and military targets, with hotels and restaurants often hit.
In August 2020, they attacked another hotel in Mogadishu. At least 16 people were killed. Also in October 2017, in the most fatal attack carried out by the terrorist group, well over 500 people were victimized when a truck packed with explosives was detonated in Mogadishu.
In addition to the militancy, Somalia suffers from a devastating drought that has driven one million people from homes and left the country in the shadow of famine, according to the United Nations.