At least 14 killed in Somalia hotel attack
MOGADISHU – The Associated PressGunmen stormed a hotel in Somalia’s seaside capital June 25, taking guests hostage and “shooting at everyone they could see,” before security forces pursued the grenade-throwing assailants to the top floor and ended the hours-long assault, police and witnesses said. At least 14 people were killed.
Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the latest in a series of hotel attacks in Mogadishu, one that began with a powerful explosion at the entry gate.
“We have finally ended the siege. The last remaining militants were killed on the top floor,” police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said after security forces cornered the gunmen, who had set up sniper posts on the roof of the Nasa-Hablod hotel. Police said at least four gunmen were involved in the attack, and two were killed.
“We have so far confirmed the deaths of 14 people. Some of them died in the hospitals,” Hussein said. The deaths included women who were selling khat, a stimulant leaf popular with Somali men, outside the hotel, he said.
Security forces rescued most of the hostages; it was not clear whether any were killed. Police and medical workers said another nine people were wounded in the assault.
Police said the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the hotel entrance, ripping off its gate. Gunmen fought their way inside, and a witness said they began shooting randomly at hotel guests.
A witness, Ali Mohamud, said the attackers randomly shot at guests. “They were shooting at everyone they could see. I escaped through the back door,” he said.
Yusuf Ali, an ambulance driver, told The Associated Press he evacuated 11 people injured in the attack to hospitals.
“Most of them were wounded in crossfire,” he said.