Police, intelligence chiefs fired after deadly attack
Bombing, shootout at hotel in Somali capital leaves 23 people dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Security forces ended an overnight siege by militants Sunday at a hotel in Somalia’s capital after a bombing and shootout that killed 23 people, and the government fired its police and intelligence chiefs amid the continuing extremist attacks.
The cabinet action followed a recommendation by Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow. It came hours after the end of the attack on the Nasa-Hablod Hotel and two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in Somalia’s worst-ever attack.
The bloodshed has shaken public confidence in the ability of the military to protect the capital, and many Somalis blame the government for not doing enough.
“We are dying in hundreds now,” said resident Ahmednur Hashi. “Who is going to protect us?”
Al-Shabab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, claimed responsibility for the latest attack, which began Saturday afternoon when a truck bomb exploded outside the popular hotel. The blast twisted vehicles and caused massive damage to nearby buildings that were left with only their walls standing.
The militants invaded the hotel and gunfire continued as security forces fought them inside the building. Two more blasts were heard, including one in which an attacker detonated a vest of explosives.
Troops regained control of the hotel after killing three attackers and capturing two others, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein.
Salim Aliyow Ibrow, the minister of electricity and water, was rescued from the hotel amid the shooting. Some extremists threw grenades and cut off the building’s electricity as night fell.
Among the dead were a mother and three children, including a baby, all shot in the head, Hussein said. Other victims included a senior police colonel, a former lawmaker and a former government minister.
The truck bomber pretended his vehicle had broken down before he detonated it in front of the hotel’s fortified gate, said police Col. Mohamed Abdullahi.
The U.S. mission in Somalia condemned the attack, saying the U.S. “remains committed to work with our Somali, African Union and international partners to degrade and defeat terrorism as Somalia continues on a path to stability and prosperity for its people.”
Rescue workers stand near the wreckage of vehicles in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Sunday. A truck bomb was detonated Saturday night.