Somalia – suicide bombers kill many at Mogadishu hotel

BBC

Security forces and an ambulance at the scene of the attack in Mogadishu. Photo: 14 June 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Somalia’s security forces and police have sealed off the area

A combined suicide bomb and gun attack at a hotel and restaurant in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has killed at least 18 people.

The attack started on Wednesday evening, as Muslims were breaking their daily fast during Ramadan.

A chef at the Pizza House restaurant, a modern venue popular with young Somalis, was among the victims.

Militants from the al-Shabab group held about 20 hostages during a shoot-out with police, which has now ended.

The al-Qaeda affiliated group admitted carrying out the attack early on Thursday.

The attack began at around 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT), when a car rigged with explosives hit the Posh Hotel next to the restaurant – the only venue in Mogadishu with a disco, Reuters news agency reports.

Gunmen then entered the Pizza House restaurant next door, seizing hostages.

Residents reported gunshots throughout the night, but the situation is now calm, a BBC reporter with the Somali service said.

Mohammud Ali said police had stormed the building “in the early hours” and security forces were clearing the hotel.

There were also unconfirmed reports the attackers wore police uniforms, he said.

An explosion is seen at the Pizza House restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, June 14, 2017, in this picture obtained from social media.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The explosion could be seen at some distance from the hotel

Troops from the African Union forced al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011, but much of the country is still under control of the militants.

The militant group has launched a series of deadly attacks on Mogadishu and other government-held regions in recent months.

Most of the militant group’s violent acts are “hit and run” style attacks.

This is the first major attack since the holy month of Ramadan began three weeks ago – a time when al-Shabab usually increases the frequency of its attacks.

Somalia has been wracked by conflict since the long-serving ruler Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

Control map of Somalia

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