Jihadists attack hotel in Somalia capital

HASSAN BARISSE
·1-min read

A hotel in Somalia's capital has been hit with a suicide car bomb and gunfire in an attack by jihadist rebels, with at least 17 people killed.

A vehicle loaded with explosives crashed into the entrance gate of the Afrik hotel in Mogadishu on Sunday afternoon, police spokesman Sadiq Adan Ali said.

A number of armed gunmen then quickly invaded the hotel, opening fire on staff and patrons inside, he said.

Government forces responded to the attack and gunfire could be heard coming from the hotel. Police rescued many people from the hotel, including its owner and an army general.

The death toll could still rise as forces continue to fight Islamist fighters inside the hotel.

Al-Shabab, Somalia's homegrown jihadist rebels, claimed responsibility for the attack through their Andalus radio station.

"We know, they have changed nothing from their usual tactic, ramming explosives into a building and following up, assaulting with rifles," said Ali.

The hotel is popular with politicians, clan elders, journalists, civil society members, government workers and government officials.

Al-Shabaab repeatedly carries out attacks in Somalia. They often target hotels where politicians, security forces, but also ordinary civilians meet.

For years, the fundamentalists have been fighting for supremacy in the impoverished country in the Horn of Africa and control large parts of the south and centre.

In a separate incident, at least eight children have died and scores of others were wounded when a bomb went off in the Golweyn area, some 120 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

- with Reuters