5 Civilians Killed In al-Shabaab Siege of Mogadishu Hotel

Authorities in Mogadishu say that five civilians were killed and at least 15 hospitalized in an attack on the Hotel Afrik in Mogadishu, after ending a siege that lasted over eight hours.

The attack began on Sunday evening, with the four attackers entering the hotel compound after a car bomb hit the hotel’s entrance. All four attackers were killed by police fighting to retake the hotel, with Somali police spokesman Sadiq Adan Ali saying that they used hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades against police forces. No comments were made on police casualties.

Ambulances gather near the Hotel Afrik during the siege.

Retired Somalian General Mohamed Nur Galal has been confirmed to be among the dead, with Somalian Prime Minister expressing condolences for him and other civilian victims in a statement condemning the attack. The Norwegian Refugee Council has also reported that one of its staff members, Muse Abdi Ahmed, was killed in the attack.

The police were able to rescue over 100 people from the hotel during the attack. Among those rescued included federal and state government officials, as well as former Minister of Defense General Yuusuf Indhacade.

al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, through their Andalus radio station and Somalimemo website.

The United Nations has condemned the attacks, with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, saying: “We are appalled by this reprehensible and senseless attack on a venue frequented by innocent civilians, and condemn it in the strongest terms”.

The Hotel Afrik is a popular choice for meetings by Somali members of parliament, politicians and security officials, due to its strategic location at the K-4 junction near the Mogadishu airport. Near it is the main security checkpoint of the airport. As Mogadishu hotels are near-universally under heavy security due to previous attacks by al-Shabaab, the attack raises questions about the Hotel Afrik’s security arrangements.

These questions are likely to be compounded by statements by former security minister and current federal member of Parliament Abdirizak Mohamed to Voice of America. In an appearance on Voice of America’s Daybreak Africa, he said that a security alert had been made warning of a potential al-Shabaab attack on restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by politicians before the attack took place.