Al Shabaab militants storm Mogadishu hotel, kill 15

Mogadishu, Jan 25 (IANS) At least 15 people are killed and more than 20 injured on Wednesday in an Al Shabaab militant attack on a hotel here, Somali police sources told the media.

After detonating a car bomb at the entrance of the popular Dayah hotel, the home-grown militants stormed the interior, shooting indiscriminately before detonating another bomb, and taking several hostages, Efe news reported.

The report said that there were many victims, including journalists, and the toll in the attack could rise.

The police here said the assault was over and that the provisional death toll was 15, but many of those critically injured were being treated in hospitals.

A government minister who was at the hotel at the time of the attack said there were a large number of members of parliament meeting there due to the electoral process going on.

A Somali member of parliament, who was also inside the hotel when the militants entered, told the media that many people hid to protect themselves from being shot.

In photographs supplied to the media, people could be seen assisting those injured amid rubble outside the hotel, at the scene of the car bomb attack.

The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (Unsom) condemned the attack on its official Twitter page, saying: “Violent extremists will never triumph in Somalia.”

Al-Shabaab, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Somalia, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in the city, where in recent months the group has carried out several attacks that have claimed civilian lives.

Hotels and restaurants here have been constant targets for the terror group, which has threatened to intensify attacks during the country’s presidential election.

The elections have been slated for various dates but have so far yet to take place.

Hundreds of African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) soldiers have been killed in recent months in targeted attacks by the group.

The Islamist militia is fighting to establish a Wahhabi Islamic state in Somalia, where it controls vast swathes of territory in the southern and central region.