Mogadishu , Somalia – The East African jihadist group known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen attacked the Dayah Hotel in a brazen daylight raid in the capital city of Mogadishu Somalia on Wednesday. The hotel which is popular with westerners along with members of the Somali Parliament was hit by a vehicle born improvised explosive that rammed the front gate then detonated leaving an entry point that al-Shabaab fighters used to storm the hotel compound. Witnesses and survivors alike described the scene as “total chaos” as al-Shabaab terrorists quickly ran through the hotel targeting groups of unarmed civilians with indiscriminate AK-47 fire leaving 20 dead and scores more wounded.
Witnesses reported that hotel residents hid under beds or jumped out windows as the al-Shabaab fighters began systematically kicking in hotel room doors and blasting anyone inside. One local witness, Hassan Nur, stated that “They[al-Shabaab] kicked down room doors and at some point posed themselves as rescue teams by telling those inside to come out (only) to kill them.” Somali security forces responded to the attack and were quickly caught in a gunfight with insurgents inside the hotel.
As the security forces were clearing the hotel room to room engaging al-Shabaab fighters, a second car bomb exploded outside the hotel’s compound tearing through emergency services and journalists that arrived on the scene injuring up to 50 in the blast, including two local Somali journalists along with a foreign correspondent from Agence France-Presse(AFP). Somali security forces later secured the hotel killing four terrorists in the process. Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency(NISA) have yet to confirm if elements of its U.S. Special Operations trained counter-terrorism unit known as The Gashaan were involved.
This is the second large-scale attack on a hotel targeting Somali members of Parliament and westerners in the capital city of Mogadishu in recent months. Prompting Mogadishu security forces to deploy more security teams on Monday to hotels within the city to respond to what is now becoming al-Shabaab’s signature attack. Mogadishu Police Commissioner Ali Hirsi Barre stated that “Heavy security preparations have been put into place to tighten the security and make sure any attack against these hotels are thwarted.” Barre pointed out that “hotels have been soft targets for the Islamists militant group Al-Shabaab especially in the capital Mogadishu aiming at politicians, foreigners and senior government officials.” These preparations and the increase of security in and around the city’s hotels seem to have failed in repelling this attack on the Dayah Hotel and sadly have resulted in loss of life.
Feature Image courtesy: Twitter