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10 killed as jihadists storm Somali hotel – Leader of Garissa University attack killed

MOGADISHU: A member of security forces guards the scene near an unidentified dead body after a bomb attack on Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday. — AP
MOGADISHU: A member of security forces guards the scene near an unidentified dead body after a bomb attack on Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday. — AP

MOGADISHU: An attack on a Mogadishu hotel by jihadist gunmen has ended with at least 10 dead, Somalia’s security minister said yesterday. Somali security forces had been battling the Shabaab fighters holed up inside the building since Wednesday evening when the assault began with a car bomb that tore the front off the six-storey Ambassador Hotel. “All the gunmen were killed by the security forces,” said security minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed. “More than 10 people are so far confirmed dead and many others are wounded,” he told reporters, adding that rescuers were searching the damaged building for survivors and dead bodies. The bodies of three suspected attackers were displayed in the dirt outside the hotel.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which protects the government and fights the Shabaab said two parliamentarians were among the dead. The attack began on Wednesday evening with a large car bomb followed by Shabaab fighters storming the upmarket hotel, popular with government officials and wealthy Somalis. Medical and security sources said around 40 people were also injured in the attack that left burning cars and debris scattered across the capital’s main Maka Al-Mukarama street. Gunfire continued throughout the night and could still be heard by dawn, more than 13 hours after the attack began.

The Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda aligned extremist group, was forced out of the capital in 2011 but continues its battle to overthrow the internationally-backed government and launches regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere. The group claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack soon after it began. Also on Wednesday, Somali special forces claimed to have killed Mohamed Mohamud Ali also known as Dulyadin and Kuno, the suspected organizer of an attack on a university in Garissa, Kenya, in April 2015 that killed 148 people, mostly students. The US also said it had killed a senior Shabaab planner, Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, in a drone strike.

In another development, a senior Shabaab commander suspected of organizing the 2015 attack on Kenya’s Garissa University has been killed in a Special Forces raid in southern Somalia, a local official said. In the coastal Somali town of Kismayo, a local security official said the suspected architect of the bloodbath in Garissa had been killed in a raid in southwestern Somalia in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. “Sixteen armed men, four of them senior commanders including Mohamed Mohamud Ali known as Dulyadin… were killed by the Somali commandos and the special forces of the Jubaland,” said Abdirashid Janan, minister of state security for Jubaland, an autonomous region in southern Somalia. Local officials paraded the bodies of the four suspected commanders in the streets of Kismayo.

The April 2, 2015 assault at Garissa University College, 365 kilometers northeast of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, left 148 people dead, 142 of them students. They were slain in their dormitories or rounded up and executed in a hall of residence. The operation was carried out by four gunmen from the Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s East Africa branch. It was Kenya’s bloodiest terror attack since Al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998, killing 213 people. Last July, the Kenyan government said that Dulyadin-also known by the aliases of Kuno and Gamadhere-had been killed in a US drone strike, but it swiftly backtracked on the claim. There was no immediate confirmation of Dulyadin’s death from Kenyan authorities. “It happened in an area which is not under our control,” Kenyan military spokesman David Obonyo told AFP late Wednesday.- Agencies

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