A Somali soldier stands guard by the scene of an al Shabaab suicide attack on a military intelligence base in Mogadishu on June 21, 2015. © Mohamed Abdiwahab, AFP file picture
A suicide bomber used an explosive-laden car to smash open the gates of one of the two fortified hotels as gunmen then stormed both premises.
Mortar rounds were also fired at Mogadishu’s former main football stadium, now a key base of African Union (AU) troops, security officials said. There were no reports of casualties in that attack.
The Weheliye and Siyaad hotels are popular meeting places for the country’s lawmakers, government workers and businessmen.
According to Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security agency, responsibility for the hotel attacks has been claimed by the al Shabaab militant Islamist group.
The agency later declared the attacks to be over, adding that at least four militants had been killed.
“Attempts to raid Weheliye Hotel thwarted, situation under control… second attack in Siyaad Hotel has been brought to an end by our forces,” it said in a brief message sent to the AFP news agency.
However, an AFP reporter said gunfire continued around the Siyyad hotel and it remained unclear if all the gunmen had been stopped.
Al Shabaab insurgents have stepped up their attacks in Somalia after the Western-backed government vowed to defeat the group and launched an offensive supported by a 22,000-man-strong AU force as well as regular US drone strikes.
The militants have also carried out a string of deadly strikes in neighbouring countries – including the April massacre of close to 150 students in Garissa in Kenya’s northeast.
On Tuesday, Shabaab gunmen also killed 14 workers in Kenya’s northern town of Mandera, close to the Somali border.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Tags: African Union, Al-Shabaab, AU, Garissa, Kenya, Mandera, militant Islamist group, Mogadishu, Somalia, Somalia's National Intelligence and Security agency, Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, US drone strikes