Gunmen storm hotel in Mogadishu

  • 26/06/2016
A vehicle burns at the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside Nasahablood hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu (Reuters)
A vehicle burns at the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside Nasahablood hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu (Reuters)

At least 35 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in a car-bomb attack followed by an invasion of a hotel in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu.

Witnesses to the apparent terrorist attack on Saturday (local time) said that the gunmen took an undetermined number of hostages inside the hotel, but police told EFE that security forces had retaken control of the building after a four-hour siege.

The car-bomb blast came about 4.30pm and produced a large column of smoke over the Nasa-Hablod Hotel in Mogadishu, frequented by politicians, and sporadic gunfire continued to be heard in the hours after the explosion.

Local police said that security forces had mounted an operation to free the hostages in which all the terrorists -- reported to number four -- were killed.

Initially, nine people, including several hotel security guards, had been reported killed and later in the day this figure was raised to 18, but police officer Abdullahi Gardhere, who was on the scene, confirmed to EFE that the fatalities numbered 35.

He also said that more than 30 people had been wounded and are being attended to by medical personnel at the attack site and in local hospitals.

The al-Shabaab jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack. The affiliate of al-Qaeda in Somalia in recent months has attacked numerous hotels and restaurants in the capital, according to the Shabelle News website.

The latest in this series of attacks occurred on June 1, when 11 people -- including several lawmakers -- died in an attack on the downtown Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu.

On that occasion, the terrorist attackers also detonated a car bomb and invaded the hotel, where they opened fire indiscriminately on anyone they encountered.

The al-Shabaab jihadist group in 2012 announced its formal affiliation with al-Qaeda and its fight to install an Islamic state under sharia law in Somalia, where it controls huge swathes of territory in the central and southern parts of the country.