At least 12 killed as Shebab attack Somalia hotel: police

Shebab militantsAt least 12 people were killed in the Somali capital on Sunday after Shebab gunmen used a vehicle packed with explosives to blast their way inside a hotel, police said.

The Al-Qaeda linked Shebab claimed responsibility for the attack at the Sahafi hotel, which is popular with government employees and businessmen, where they said they were still fighting security forces.

But African Union troops, battling alongside government forces, said they had taken control of the building after defeating the insurgents.

“Attackers exploded a car bomb to gain entry before going inside… we have reports of 12 dead,” policeman Abdulrahid Dahir said.

Witnesses said they had seen several bodies of people killed in the inital blast, when a minibus packed with explosive was reportedly used to ram the gates of the hotel’s fortified compound.

Shebab commandos then stormed inside.

“There was a huge explosion, and people around the entrance were killed,” said Mohamed Ismael, a witness, who was nearby when the attack began.

Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab claimed the gunmen had overrun the hotel, which is situated near the major K4 roundabout.

“The mujahedeen fighters took control of the Sahafi hotel where apostates and invading Christians were staying,” he said in a statement.

“The mujahedeen are carrying out operations inside the hotel after the takeover.”

But the African Union mission in Somalia, AMISOM, a 22,000-strong force fighting the Shebab, said they fought alongside government troops and had secured the hotel.

“Somalia government forces and AMISOM have taken control,” the AU force said in a brief statement.

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