26 killed in deadly So­ma­lia ho­tel siege

Mindanao Times - - CLASSIFIED ADS -

Twenty-six peo­ple were killed and 56 in­jured in a 12hour at­tack by Al-Shabaab ji­hadists on a pop­u­lar ho­tel that ended early Satur­day in the south­ern So­mali port city of Kis­mayo. A sui­cide bomber rammed a ve­hi­cle loaded with explosives into the Me­d­ina ho­tel on Fri­day be­fore sev­eral heav­ily armed gun­men forced their way in­side, shoot­ing as they went, au­thor­i­ties said. It was the largest co­or­di­nated at­tack by the Shabaab in Kis­mayo since 2012 when it lost con­trol of the city. The vic­tims in­cluded sev­eral for­eign­ers and a prom­i­nent So­mali-Cana­dian jour­nal­ist, No­dan Halayeh, who per­ished along with her hus­band. Three Kenyans, three Tan­za­ni­ans, two Amer­i­cans, one Bri­ton and one Cana­dian were among the dead, pres­i­dent Ahmed Mo­hamed Is­lam of the semi-au­ton­o­mous Juba­land re­gion told a news con­fer­ence. “There are also two wounded Chi­nese cit­i­zens,” he added. The ho­tel was packed with politi­cians and prom­i­nent busi­ness­men as meet­ings were un­der­way for up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Juba­land, due in Au­gust. One of the can­di­dates in the elec­tion died in the siege, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties said. - ‘Mar­tyr­dom at­tack’ “The whole build­ing is in ru­ins, there are dead bod­ies and wounded who have been re­cov­ered from in­side. The se­cu­rity forces have cor­doned off the whole area,” said wit­ness Muna Ab­di­rah­man. An­other wit­ness Hus­sein Muk­tar said: “The blast was very big.” “The se­cu­rity forces are in con­trol now and the last ter­ror­ist was shot and killed”, se­cu­rity of­fi­cial Mo­hamed Ab­di­weli said. “There are dead bod­ies and wounded peo­ple strewn in­side the ho­tel,” Ab­di­weli added. He said au­thor­i­ties be­lieved four gun­men, who one wit­ness de­scribed as wear­ing So­mali po­lice uni­forms, were in­volved in the at­tack. Halayeh’s death sparked an out­pour­ing of grief on so­cial me­dia. She was an ar­dent cam­paigner for So­mali unity and peace and had started an on­line TV show named In­te­gra­tion. In a re­cent pod­cast, Nalayeh said her television pro­gramme about the So­mali di­as­pora gave the com­mu­nity a voice. “So­cial me­dia has changed the game for how peo­ple learn about cul­ture. So, if we don’t be­come the creators of our own con­tent, we are go­ing to be at the mercy of other peo­ple telling the sto­ries of Africa,” she had said. A lo­cal jour­nal­ist, Mo­hamed Omar Sa­hal, also died in the siege, the So­mali jour­nal­ists’ union SJS said, adding that these were the first jour­nal­ist deaths in the coun­try this year. Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the siege de­scrib­ing it as “a mar­tyr­dom at­tack”. The US Mis­sion to So­ma­lia con­demned the at­tack and said it would “con­tinue to work with our So­mali and other in­ter­na­tional part­ners in the fight against vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. - ‘Crim­i­nal, mur­der­ous, de­struc­tive’ The African Union’s Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in So­ma­lia, Fran­cisco Madeira, said the at­tack was “meant to de­rail progress in So­ma­lia as the coun­try re­builds and con­sol­i­dates the gains made on peace and se­cu­rity. “The at­tack­ers are a group of peo­ple with a crim­i­nal, mur­der­ous and de­struc­tive agenda. They can­not claim to be fight­ing to bring good gov­er­nance to the coun­try,” he said. The at­tack is the lat­est in a long line of bomb­ing and as­saults claimed by Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to top­ple the So­mali gov­ern­ment. The mil­i­tant group emerged from Is­lamic Courts that once con­trolled cen­tral and south­ern So­ma­lia and are var­i­ously es­ti­mated to num­ber be­tween 5,000 and 9,000 men. In 2010, the Shabaab de­clared their al­le­giance to Al-Qaeda. In 2011, they fled po­si­tions they once held in the cap­i­tal Mo­gadishu, and have since lost many stronghold­s. But they re­tain con­trol of large ru­ral swathes of the coun­try and con­tinue to wage a guer­rilla war against the au­thor­i­ties. Agence France-Presse

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