At least 26 people, including foreigners, were killed and more than 50 were wounded in an attack on a hotel in Kismayo in southern Somalia that began on Friday night, Al Jazeera reported. Kenyans, Americans, a Briton, a Canadian and Tanzanians were among those dead along with a presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections.
The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab carried out the attack, said Jubbaland President Ahmed Mohamed. The group is trying to topple the country’s weak United Nations-backed government. “First, we targeted [the hotel] with a suicide car bomb and then armed mujahideen [fighters] stormed the hotel,” said al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesperson Abdiasis Abu Musab.
Al-Shabaab terrorists stormed the hotel after detonating a car bomb while local elders and legislators were meeting to discuss the upcoming regional elections. The operation by security forces ended at 7 am local time on Saturday after 11 hours of siege. “The operation is over,” police officer Major Mohamed Abdi told Reuters over telephone from the port city. “The four attackers were shot dead.”
Jubbaland’s Minister of Planning Just Aw Hersi, confirmed the deaths of several prominent Somalis. “We admit, we are heartbroken by their sudden violent deaths,” he tweeted. “But rest assured, we are also as mad as hell because of it.”
A group representing Somali journalists confirmed that two journalists – Somali-Canadian Hodan Naleyah, founder of Integration TV, and SBC TV reporter Mohamed Sahal Omar – were among those killed, Al Jazeera reported. “We are saddened and outraged by this loss of life, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling massacre,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, secretary-general of the Federation of Somali Journalists.