Jihadists launch deadly assault on hotel — RT World News

An attack on a popular hotel in the Somali capital left several dead, police and witnesses said, with a group of rebel militiamen detonating explosives outside before gunmen stormed the building. A shootout with security forces has been ongoing since Saturday morning.

The assault on the upscale Hayat hotel in Mogadishu began on Friday evening and was quickly claimed by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group based in Somalia. After fighting their way into the building, armed fighters then ran inside and have been in a gunfight with police ever since.

“A huge explosion occurred minutes before the armed men forced their way into the hotel,” security official Abdukadir Hassan told AFP, adding that « Security forces are now engaging with the enemy who are entrenched inside the building. »

Although many details of the attack remain unclear, police and eyewitnesses quoted by The Associated Press said at least 10 civilians had been killed so far. No victim has yet been identified by the government.

Another Somali official cited by AFP, Mohamed Abdikadir, noted that the police had « rescued dozens of civilians, including children who were trapped in the building ». It has not been specified how many people were inside the hotel at the time of the attack, nor how many are currently staying there.

Gunfire could still be heard around the hotel early on Saturday, with security forces saying they were trying to contain the last remaining gunmen. However, it is also unclear how many have entered the building or are still inside.

Formed in 2006 following years of civil war in Somalia, al-Shabaab has become increasingly radicalized over the years and in 2012 pledged allegiance to the notorious al-Qaeda terror cell. . The United States has repeatedly targeted the group with airstrikes and cited the faction as one of the main reasons for the intermittent presence of American troops in the country.

Although former President Donald Trump previously ordered all US troops out of Somalia, he did not completely halt operations there, with troops continuing to « shuttle bus » to the country for missions. However, President Joe Biden recently reversed that decision and redeployed several hundred troops, and the Pentagon declared the need for a “Persistent US military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab. The US military also continued aerial operations and claimed to have killed some 17 Shabaab fighters in several strikes this month alone.

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