Mogadishu, Somalia – At least 15 people, including two members of the Somali Parliament and Mogadishu’s deputy mayor, were killed on Friday in an attack on a hotel often used by government officials in Somalia’s capital 20 others were wounded in the attack. Militant’s reportedly attacked the hotel with a car packed with explosives which was detonated near the main gate of the high-profile Central Hotel. The hotel is located only a few miles from the cede of Somali political power, the Presidential Palace.
Following the explosion heavy gunfire between the militant attackers and hotel guards broke out, witnesses reported. Shortly after a second blasted carried out by a female suicide bomber at a mosque inside the hotel was reported as other attackers shot their way inside the hotel, a reporter said. “I saw … several people burned by the flames of the explosions lying on the blood-filled ground inside the hotel,” said Mustaf Mohamed, a witness who runs a small shop nearby.
Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte was among those inside the Central Hotel at the time of the attack, having just attended traditional Friday prayers. The Deputy Prime Minister suffered minor injuries but survived the attack, state media reported. Transportation Minister Ali Jama Jangeli also suffered minor injuries. Parliament members Hajji Gafe and Ali Omar, as well as Mohamed Aden Guled, Mogadishu’s deputy mayor, were killed in the attack.
Al-Shabaab, an Islamist extremist group which has committed several terrorist acts in Somalia and the region over the past several years has claimed responsibility for the attack, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, a spokesman for the terror group, said on Andulus radio, a radio station ran by the militant group. “We have killed more than 20 senior officials working for the apostate government. They gathered thinking they were safe from the mujahedeen,” he said. Al- Shabaab controlled much of Mogadishu from 2007 to 2011. However, the group was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.
The presidential palace condemned the attack in a tweet citing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, “#AlShabaab are un-Islamic and anti-democracy.”
Friday’s assault on the Central Hotel was the second on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On January 22, three Somali nationals were killed by another female suicide car bomber who blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who visited the country only days after the attack.