Kismayo attack: At least 26 dead as gunmen storm Somali hotel
– Williams Shekinah, ABH Press
At least 26 people, including a prominent journalist and several foreigners, have been killed in an attack on a hotel in southern Somalia on Friday.
A suicide bomber rammed a car containing explosives into the Asasey hotel in the port of Kismayo, and gunmen then stormed the building. Journalist Hodan Naleyah, 43, and her husband Farid were among the dead.
Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed the attack, the worst to hit Kismayo since they were forced out in 2012. A local politician, three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans and one Briton were also killed, authorities say.
Regional politicians and clan elders were inside the hotel discussing a forthcoming regional election when the attack began. Witnesses said they heard a huge blast before several heavily armed men forced their way in.
“There is chaos inside, I saw several dead bodies carried from the scene and people are fleeing from the nearby buildings,” one witness, Hussein Muktar, said during the attack. It took 12 hours for authorities to regain control over the hotel.
Regional President Ahmed Mohamed put the death toll at 26 with more than 50 people wounded. Three attackers died in the raid while one was captured.
The Somali Journalists Syndicate said that Nalayeh and another reporter also killed in Kismayo, Mohamed Omar Sahal, were the first journalists to be killed in the country this year.
Somalia sees frequent militant attacks but after al-Shabab was driven out of Kismayo the port has been relatively peaceful.
The militants have been carrying out regular attacks in the capital Mogadishu, despite the heavy presence of African Union peacekeepers and US-trained Somali troops.
Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda and remains a powerful presence in rural Somalia.