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Survivors tell of chaos after hotel siege

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mogadishu's Dayah hotel was badly damaged by a suicide car bomb. Photo / AP

At least 11 were killed and 50 injured yesterday as Somali security forces ended a siege by extremist fighters who stormed a hotel in the capital, police said.

Four al-Shabaab attackers were also killed in the attack on Dayah hotel, which is often frequented by government officials, said Captain Mohamed Hussein, a senior police officer. The death toll may rise, he said.

Survivors described chaotic scenes in which hotel residents hid under beds and others jumped out of windows of the four-storey building to escape the attackers.

"They kicked down room doors and at some point posed themselves as rescue teams by telling those inside to come out [only] to kill them," said Hassan Nur, a traditional Somali elder. He said two well known clan elders were among those killed.

The assault on the hotel started when a suicide car bomb exploded at its gates. Another explosion followed.

Dozens of people, including lawmakers, were thought to have been staying at the hotel at the time of the morning attack.
Somalia's homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via its online radio.

Al-Shabaab frequently targets hotels and other public places often visited by government officials and foreigners. Al-Qaeda's East African affiliate is fighting to impose a strict version of Islam in the nation.

In June, gunmen stormed the Nasa-Hablod hotel, killing at least 14 people. Two weeks before that, gunmen killed 15, including two members of Parliament, at the Ambassador hotel.

Despite being ousted from most of its key strongholds, al-Shabaab continues to carry out deadly guerrilla attacks across large parts of south and central Somalia.

Al-Shabaab's assaults have threatened the nation's attempts to rebuild from decades of chaos. The presidential election, a key step toward recovery, already has been delayed several times because of security and other concerns.AP


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