Sui­cide bombers kill at least 22 in So­ma­lia

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

MO­GADISHU: Sui­cide at­tack­ers set off two car bombs at a ho­tel in Mo­gadishu Fri­day, killing at least 22 peo­ple, po­lice said.

The mil­i­tant Is­lamist group AlShabab, linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack on the Ho­tel Sa­hafi, which is near the head­quar­ters of So­ma­lia’s Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment.

Ho­tel guards and CID of­fi­cers opened fire af­ter the blasts, po­lice added. Then, about 20 min­utes later, a third ex­plo­sion from a bomb placed in a three-wheeled “tuk-tuk” ve­hi­cle near the ho­tel hit the busy street, wit­nesses said.

“Four mil­i­tants who at­tempted to en­ter the ho­tel were shot dead by our po­lice and the ho­tel guards,” po­lice cap­tain Mo­ham­mad Ahmed told Reuters. “Two other mil­i­tants were sui­cide car bombers who were blown up by their car bombs. The third car was re­motely det­o­nated. So in to­tal 28 peo­ple died, in­clud­ing the six mil­i­tants.”

Ab­d­i­fa­tah Ab­di­rashid, who took over the Sa­hafi from his fa­ther af­ter he was killed in a mil­i­tant at­tack in 2015, was among those who died in Fri­day’s at­tack, Mo­ham­mad Ab­diqani, a wit­ness at the ho­tel, said.

“The mil­i­tants who en­tered the ho­tel com­pound faced heavy gun­fire from the ho­tel guards. Ab­d­i­fa­tah Ab­di­rashid, the ho­tel owner, and three of his body­guards died,” Ab­diqani said. A Reuters pho­tog­ra­pher at the scene saw 20 bod­ies of civil­ians and burnt-out minibuses, mo­tor­bikes and cars.

Ab­di­a­sisi Abu Musab, Al-Shabab spokesman for mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, said the group had sin­gled out the Sa­hafi for at­tack be­cause of its as­so­ci­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment the Is­lamists want to over­throw.

“We tar­geted it be­cause it acts as gov­ern­ment base. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and se­cu­rity forces are al­ways in the ho­tel,” he told Reuters.

So­ma­lia has been en­gulfed by vi­o­lence and law­less­ness since dic­ta­tor Mo­ham­mad Siad Barre was top­pled in the early 1990s. –

So­ma­lis carry away a civil­ian who was wounded in a bomb blast near the Sa­hafi ho­tel in Mo­gadishu, So­ma­lia.

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