At Least 19 Killed In Somali Hotel Attack

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At Least 19 Killed In Somali Hotel Attack

At least 19 people were killed when Islamist militants launched a car bomb and gun attack on a busy hotel and adjacent restaurant in the Somali capital, a police officer said on Thursday.

A car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into the Posh Hotel in south Mogadishu on Wednesday evening before gunmen rushed into Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage. Posh Hotel is the only venue with a discotheque in the capital.

District police chief Abdi Bashir told Reuters Somali security forces took back control of the restaurant at midnight after the gunmen had held hostages inside for several hours. Five of the gunmen were killed, Bashir said.

“We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber,” he told Reuters by phone.

Witnesses said there were bodies lying at the scene on Thursday morning as ambulances came to take them away.

Another 27 civilians were taken to hospital with various injuries, ambulance services said. Witnesses said the attack was launched after the Iftar dinner for customers who are fasting for Ramadan. Most of them were still inside relaxing.

The wreckage of three-wheeled scooters caught up in the blast at the hotel, which also housed a massage parlor, lay overturned around the scene.

Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group claimed on Thursday morning it killed more than 20 people including soldiers and government workers.

Al Shabaab usually provides a higher death toll from its attacks than the government’s figures. Just sad!

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