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Somalia: Al-Shabab attack on top Mogadishu hotel ends

March 15, 2024

No official casualty toll or comments from the Somali government have been provided after the attack. The SYL hotel in Mogadishu has been targeted by Sunni militant group Al-Shabab in the past.

In this photo from 2019, Somali security forces guard the entrance to the SYL hotel. The hotel was also attacked by al-Shabab militants in 2019
The SYL, seen here in a picture from 2019, is a popular hotel in central MogadishuImage: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo/picture alliance

The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack on a popular luxury hotel in Somalia early on Friday. 

The al-Qaeda-linked militant group's gunmen stormed the SYL hotel in Mogadishu at around 9:45 p.m. local time (1845 GMT) on Thursday evening.

Militants fired rounds after they forced their way in, security officer Ahmed Dahir told the AFP news agency.

'Situation has returned to normal'

Police later said the threat from the gunmen had been neutralized.

"All the terrorist gunmen were killed, and the situation has returned to normal now, the security forces are carrying out a thorough clearance and investigations," one officer, Abdirahim Yusuf, told the AFP news agency.

Local news outlets reported that an explosion, presumed to be a car bomb, was heard, followed by al-Shabab announcing the ongoing attack on its Telegram channel.

Police officers arrived at the hotel minutes after the shooting, and a battle of bullets ensued between the militants and officers, witnesses said.

Ambulances took those injured to nearby hospitals, witnesses said.

No government statement yet

Without a government statement on the attack even hours later, it is still unclear if there are any casualties.

According to reports, there were numerous members of parliament and other politicians at the hotel, and a government spokesperson was reportedly slightly injured.

"I don't know about the casualties but there were many people inside when the attack started," said Hassan Nur, a witness, who escaped by scaling a wall.

The SYL Hotel has been the target of several al-Shabab attacks in the past.

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Somali president holds meeting to beat back militant group

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met defense officials in a "strategic meeting" later in on Thursday to discuss the battle against al-Shabab, according to national news agency SONNA.

Al-Shabab is an Islamist insurgent group that was born out of that country's years of anarchy following its 1991 civil war. The affiliate of al-Qaeda once held Mogadishu.

Over time, an African Union-led force, with the backing of the US and other countries, pushed the militants out of the capital.

But militants maintain a strong presence in rural Somalia and regularly carry out attacks on political and civilian targets, including taking aim at locations in Mogadishu. 

Last week, the group attacked three major neighborhoods in Mogadishu.

"The president commended the valiant efforts of Somali forces and emphasized the government's unwavering resolve to eradicate terrorism," SONNA said in its report.

rm, ss/sri (AFP, AP)