Shabab Gunmen Penetrate Heavy Security to Besiege Hotel in Somalia

Five assailants with the terrorist group Al Shabab stormed a hotel in a highly fortified area close to Somalia’s presidential palace on Thursday night, engaging security forces for about 12 hours in sustained fighting that left three people dead and injured 27 — including members of parliament — before the militants were finally killed, according to Somali officials.

The attack underscored Al Shabab’s enduring capacity to stage attacks on a high-profile target in the capital, despite an aggressive counteroffensive by the Somali government, backed by the U.S. military.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised to eliminate the group by fighting it militarily, ideologically and financially, when he came to power in mid-2022.

The militants with Al Shabab, a Qaeda-linked group, stormed the SYL Hotel in central Mogadishu after 9:30 p.m. local time, a police spokesman, Kasim Ahmed Roble, said Friday. Video footage broadcast on local television showed mangled cars and widespread destruction near the hotel’s entrance, while debris and blood covered the hotel’s floors inside.

“It is a disappointment for the Somali people that an explosion happened in the safest place in Somalia, which is so close to the presidential palace,” Osman Mohamed, a 25-year-old shopkeeper in Mogadishu, said on Friday. “This is a tough reality, and we are hoping President Hassan Sheikh will fix it.”

The Shabab have been staging attacks in Somalia for more than 15 years, fighting to topple the Western-backed government and establish a state in line with their own interpretation of Islam. African Union peacekeeping forces, which helped to deter Al Shabab for years, are due to pull out by December.

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