Mogadishu, Jun 10 (EFE).- Security forces ended a siege by jihadist group Al-Shabab on a seaside hotel in Somalia’s capital city, state media said Saturday.
“Security forces have successfully neutralized the Al-Shabaab militants responsible for the terrorist attack on the Pearl Beach Hotel in Lido Beach, Mogadishu,” state-run Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported.
“A large number of civilians were rescued during the operation,” the agency added, without providing further details about the siege that lasted about 10 hours.
The assault at the Pearl Beach hotel began around 8 pm on Friday night with explosions, believed to be the work of suicide bombers, followed by gunfire.
The hotel is frequented by government officials, politicians and lawmakers and located in a heavily protected area of Mogadishu close to the embassies of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
The attack caused extensive material damage to the hotel, where a large number of people gathered on Saturday morning to inquire about friends and relatives who were staying there.
Several ambulance were seen standing nearby to treat possible victims.
“I left Pearl Beach before the attack, I think it was about 20 minutes before,” witness Muhubo Hassan told EFE on Friday night. “I went to the beach with my youngest cousin for a night-time walk. It was then that we heard an explosion.”
“We could see smoke in the sky after the explosion and many people shouting. I ran down the beach with my cousin for safety,” Hassan said.
Another witness, Hibaq Mohamed, said that “when the explosion happened, we saw a group of men running inside the hotel with firearms.”
EFE tried to contact the police to confirm if there were any casualties in the attack but did not receive a response.
It is not the first time that a terrorist attack has been carried out against a hotel in Mogadishu since Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May 2022.
An August 2022 attack by Al-Shabab on another hotel in the Somali capital led to a 30-hour siege that ended with 21 people dead and more than 100 others wounded.
That month, Mohamud declared a “total war” against the terrorist group, which the Somali army is fighting alongside the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in military operations sometimes supported by the United States.
Al Shabab, which has been affiliated with al-Qaeda since 2012, often carries out attacks in the capital and other parts of the country to overthrow the central government – backed by the international community – and establish by force a Wahhabi-style (ultra-conservative) Islamic state.
The jihadist group controls rural areas in central and southern Somalia and also attacks neighboring countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.
Somalia has been struggling with conflict and chaos since dictator Mohamed Said was overthrown in 1991, leaving the country without an effective government and in the hands of Islamist militias and warlords. EFE