Mogadishu: Four dead as Shabaab seize hotel

APA-Mogadishu (Somalia)

al-Shabaab militants are laying siege to a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, leaving at least four people dead in an ensuing shootout with government troops, APA can report on Monday.

Several people are also reported injured as bursts of automatic gunfire rang out as the insurgents launched a daring attack on the Villa Rose Guest Hotel beginning on Sunday evening.

Several hours into Monday morning, explosions could still be heard in and around the hotel which is also next door to the presidential palace which was also reportedly hit.

al-Shabaab which has been waging a deadly insurgency against successive Somali government for the last 15 years has claimed responsibility for the siege. 

The Villa Rose Guest hotel is frequented by Somali government officials including ministers one of whom was said to have been injured by the exchanges of gunfire between the militants and security forces.

Eyewitness accounts speak of terrified people using windows in the hotel to jump to safety while others trapped inside the compound ran helter-shelter for cover.

Meanwhile other streets of Mogadishu appear to be calm as the security forces continue to battle their way inside the hotel under siege to prevent further attacks on the nearby presidential palace. 

Despite being dealt a serious blow with the loss of large swathes of territory in south and central Somalia to a combination of government security forces and African Union troops since 2012, al-Shabab has retained its capacity to launch deadly suicide attacks on the capital.

More than 20 people were killed in a similar attack targeting a hotel last August.

Last month, two suicide bombers killed close to 100 people in a twin blast in Mogadishu, two months after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud came to power vowing to defeat the insurgents. 


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