So­ma­lia blasts leave 20 dead

Kuwait Times - - International -

MOGADISHU: About 20 peo­ple were killed and dozens wounded Fri­day in a string of ex­plo­sions near a pop­u­lar ho­tel in the So­mali cap­i­tal Mogadishu, po­lice said. “We are get­ting (in­for­ma­tion that) about 20 peo­ple died in the at­tack and more than 40 oth­ers were wounded. Most of these peo­ple were civil­ians who were pass­ing by the area when the at­tack oc­curred,” Ab­du­lahi Ahmed, a So­mali se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, said.

Twin car bombs ex­ploded in the cap­i­tal within mo­ments of each other, fol­lowed by gun­fire and a third blast, send­ing thick plumes of black smoke into the sky, ac­cord­ing to an AFP re­porter. Mogadishu faces fre­quent bomb­ings at the hands of Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda af­fil­i­ate which has been fight­ing to over­throw the in­ter­na­tion­ally-backed So­mali gov­ern­ment for over a decade. The blasts oc­curred near the Sa­hafi ho­tel and Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Divi­sion (CID) po­lice head­quar­ters. “The tar­get of the at­tack was the Sa­hafi ho­tel and even though the at­tack­ers used car bombs to make their way into the premises, the se­cu­rity forces stopped them,” said Ahmed. “All of the four Shabaab at­tack­ers were killed out­side” the ho­tel build­ing, he stressed. An ini­tial “two blasts struck the perime­ter of the Sa­hafi ho­tel along the main road,” said po­lice of­fi­cial Ibrahim Mo­hamed, who ear­lier gave a pre­lim­i­nary toll of more than 10 dead. Wit­nesses said a third blast came from a sui­cide bomber who det­o­nated an ex­plo­sives-laden vest at the ho­tel’s front en­trance, as three at­tack­ers in So­mali mil­i­tary uni­form were shot at the rear en­trance.

Fa­tal­i­ties Ab­dulka­dir Ab­di­rah­man, di­rec­tor of Mogadishu’s Aamin am­bu­lance ser­vice, ear­lier said his team had re­cov­ered 10 bod­ies and 40 wounded. But Bashir Has­san Farah, an­other am­bu­lance medic, later said he saw 20 dead bod­ies, most of them civil­ians. Ac­cord­ing to sources, the fa­tal­i­ties in­cluded the son of the owner of the ho­tel, Ab­di­rashid Ilqeyte, who was killed in a Shabaab at­tack on the es­tab­lish­ment in Novem­ber 2015.

The bombs de­stroyed parts of the ho­tel perime­ter de­spite lay­ered se­cu­rity, and sev­eral shops and other build­ings nearby were de­stroyed. Sources said sev­eral civil­ian minibuses and rick­shaws that were pass­ing by when the blast oc­curred, were de­stroyed and pas­sen­gers killed and wounded. “There was chaos af­ter the blast. Some of the ve­hi­cles were buses, which caught fire. I could see peo­ple scream­ing as they fled the buses,” wit­ness Fad­umo Ali said. “This area is al­ways dense and traf­fic jams are nor­mal. This in­creased the ca­su­al­ties. Most of the dead and wounded were civil­ians,” added Awil Mo­hamed, an­other wit­ness. The Shabaab claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity. “Armed mem­bers from the Shabab Al-Mu­jahideen car­ried (out) a com­plex at­tack tar­get­ing Sa­hafi ho­tel in Mogadishu where se­nior So­mali gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials stay,” the mil­i­tant group said in a state­ment quoted by a pro-Shabaab web­site. “The at­tack was opened with a mar­tyr­dom car bomb blast and the fight­ers made their way into the build­ing.” The Shabaab were forced out of the cap­i­tal by African Union troops in 2011. But they still con­trol parts of the coun­try­side and at­tack gov­ern­ment, mil­i­tary, and civil­ian tar­gets, seem­ingly at will, in Mogadishu and towns in the re­gion. — AFP

MOGADISHU: Peo­ple res­cue a wounded per­son fol­low­ing three blasts of sui­cide bomb car at­tacks in Mogadishu, on Novem­ber 9, 2018. — AFP

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