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July 15, 2019
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Kuwait Times International

26 killed in deadly Somalia hotel siege

TOPSHOT – A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019, a day after at least 26 people, including several foreigners, were killed and 56 injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack claimed by Al-Shabaab militants. – A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the Medina hotel in the port town of Kismayo before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went, authorities said. (Photo by – / AFP)

MOGADISHU:
Islamist gunmen killed 26 people, including Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and
Tanzanians, when they stormed a hotel in Somalia’s southern port city of
Kismayo, a regional state president said yesterday, the deadliest day in the
city since insurgents were driven out in 2012. A car bomb exploded at the hotel
where local elders and lawmakers were having a meeting on Friday night, and
then three gunmen stormed in, police said. It took 11 hours before security
forces ended the overnight attack, police officer Major Mohamed Abdi told
Reuters.

The dead included
a presidential candidate for August’s regional elections, Jubbaland state
president Ahmed Mohamed Madobe said in a statement. At least two journalists
and a UN agency staff member were also reported to have been killed.
Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s
weak UN-backed government, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operation spokesman said yesterday
they had killed 30 people and four of its fighters were also dead.

Al Shabaab and
government officials tend to give differing casualty numbers for attacks.
Regional president Madobe said that three Kenyans, one Briton, two Americans
and three Tanzanians were among those killed. “Among the dead was also a
Jubbaland presidential candidate named Shuuriye. Four militants attacked the
hotel. One of them was the suicide car bomber, two were shot dead and one was captured
alive by Jubbaland security forces,” he said.

He said 56 people
were wounded in the attack, including two Chinese citizens. Police had said
earlier all the attackers had been killed. Kismayo resident Osman Nur told
Reuters that the explosion had destroyed huge parts of the hotel and nearby
businesses and security forces were deployed all over the city. Another
anguished resident said she had lost relatives in the attack.

“I have been
looking for the whereabouts of my nephew who worked at the hotel. I got his
dead body this morning and have just buried him,” Halima Nur, a mother of
four, told Reuters by phone. “And this afternoon I will attend the burial
of other relatives.” Jubbaland’s minister of planning, Just Aw Hersi,
confirmed the deaths of several prominent Somalis on Twitter. He said some of
the foreigners also held dual Somali citizenship. “We admit, we are
heartbroken by their sudden violent deaths. But rest assured, we are also as
mad as hell because of it,” he tweeted.

Naming the dead

The Somalia
office of the UN’s International Organization for Migration said one of its
local staff members, Abdifatah Mohamed, was among those killed while SADO
Somalia, a local non-governmental organisation, said its executive director
Abdullahi Isse Abdulle had died in the attack. Two journalists were among the
dead; Somali-Canadian Hodan Naleyah, the founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed
Sahal Omar, a reporter for SBC TV in Kismayo.

Jubbaland
president Madobe said Jama Fariid, Naleyah’s husband, had also been killed.
“Through her work as a journalist, Hodan highlighted the community’s
positive stories and contributions in Canada. She became a voice for many. We
mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the #KismayoAttack,” Ahmed
Hussen, Canada’s Immigration minister, said on Twitter.

Al Shabaab was
forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other
strongholds. It was driven out of Kismayo in 2012 by Kenyan forces supporting a
regional militia headed by Madobe. The city’s port had been a major source of
revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other
illegal imports. Kismayo is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of
southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.

The group remains
a major security threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in
Somalia and neighboring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African
Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.
Somalia is scheduled to have parliamentary elections this month and
presidential elections next month. But relations between the central government
and its federal states have sometimes been rocky amid arguments over power and
resources. – Reuters

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