Dhe Somali Al-Shabab militia has launched an attack on a hotel in the center Mogadishu emphatically reminded of their dangerousness. The storming of the “Villa Rose”, which is not far from the presidential palace, began on Sunday and was not over by early Monday evening. Security forces exchanged gunfire with the attackers. The AP news agency reported at least four deaths, citing local residents. However, it was considered likely that the number of victims would be significantly higher; There was no official information on this for the time being.
According to media reports, shots and explosions were heard at the beginning of the attack on Sunday evening. Special units intervened. Scores of people staying in the hotel were freed or managed to escape through the windows and over the walls of the building. Among them were politicians such as Environment Minister Adam Aw Hirsi. He wrote on Twitter that shortly after evening prayers, a suicide bomber blew himself up, and then gunmen stormed the hotel. “Bullets flew in all directions,” he wrote. Along with a friend and another minister, he escaped through a back door, which they forced open.
Somalia has intensified the fight against Al-Shabab
The al-Shabab militia later claimed responsibility for the attack on their radio station. The jihadists keep attacking public facilities and hotels in Mogadishu. However, the fact that the “Villa Rose” is located in one of the most heavily secured areas of the Somali capital makes this attack particularly explosive and symbolic. Four weeks earlier, more than 120 people were killed in a double bomb attack in Mogadishu that al-Shabab claimed was responsible for. It was the most devastating act of terrorism since a bombing at the same location five years earlier.
The militia, which is part of the al-Qaeda network, has been fighting for the establishment of an Islamic system in the unstable country on the Horn of Africa for a decade and a half. It controls large parts of the country. On Friday, al-Shabab members attacked an army base in the central Somali region of Galgaduud, a few hundred kilometers north of Mogadishu. Government troops had driven the jihadists out of that area a few weeks earlier. Also last week, the government announced that 49 al-Shabab fighters had been killed in a military operation in the Lower Shabelle region around Mogadishu.
Somalia has intensified the fight against Al-Shabab under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who has been in office since May. The government is relying on support from the United States in the form of airstrikes, but is also increasingly working with local tribal organizations. In mid-November, the United Nations Security Council extended the arms embargo imposed in 1992 in response to the civil war in Somalia; only slight loosening was decided. The Somali government criticized the extension; UN Ambassador Abukar Osman said the soldiers urgently needed weapons to fight al-Shabab.