'Several dead' in Somalia hotel attack

Explosion at Somalia's hotel on 12 July 2019

A Somali official says the attack started with a suicide vehicle bomb blast and then gunmen stormed a hotel in the port city of Kismayo.

The Islamist militant group al Shabaab, linked to Qaeda, said it had carried out a suicide attack.

Abdi Ahmed, a local district official, told The Associated Press the death toll may rise as fighting is continuing inside the Asasey Hotel between the extremist gunmen and security forces. It said its fighters had battled their way into the hotel after a suicide auto bomb attack.

"First, we targeted [the hotel] with a suicide auto bomb and then armed mujahideen [fighters] stormed the hotel", said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operations spokesman.

The group said "Mujahidin fighters carried out a martyrdom attack on one of the hotels accommodating the apostate officials of the Jubaland administration".

According to the bits and pieces coming out from the city, the police is is still battling out with the fighters inside the hotel compound.

A journalists' group had confirmed on Friday that two journalists were among the dead; Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Naleyah, the founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed Sahal Omar, reporter of SBC TV in Kismayu.

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Regional politicians and clan elders were inside the hotel.

"There are many unnecessary our bodies all throughout the hotel, including a unnecessary white man".

Ms. Nalayeh's husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, was also killed in the attack, said Hassan Gesey, director of Mogadishu-based Radio Dalsan in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Al-Shabab frequently carries out bombings in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia against government, military and civilian targets. The city's port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.

Outside of Kismayu, al Shabaab still controls parts of Jubbaland, a region in southern Somalia.

"Several gunmen entered and started shooting but the security forces responded quickly and engaged in a gunfight with the terrorists inside the building", said security official Abdiweli Mohamed.

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