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'Briton' is among four people killed in ongoing hotel siege in Somali capital

The siege of the hotel is ongoing - gunshots and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets (image by archive)

‘Briton’ is among four people killed in jihadist-led hotel siege in Somali capital

  • Al-Shabaab militants stormed the Villa Rose hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital
  • A Briton was reportedly among four people killed in the hotel siege
  • The siege of the hotel is ongoing, with gunshots and explosions still heard 12 hours later

A Briton is believed to be among four victims killed by al-Shabaab militants after they stormed a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The Briton, who arrived in Somalia less than two weeks ago, was shot dead by gunmen as they opened fire on customers inside the famous Villa Rose hotel.

The siege of the hotel continues today – gunshots and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets.

Mohamed Dahir, an official with the national security agency, said the gunmen were locked in a room at Villa Rose surrounded by government forces.

The siege of the hotel is ongoing - gunshots and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets (image by archive)

The siege of the hotel is ongoing – gunshots and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets (image by archive)

“So far we have confirmed the death of four people,” he said, adding that others had been rescued from the besieged site.

“Very soon, the situation will return to normal.”

Government officials were among others injured, he added.

Villa Rose is frequented by MPs and located in a secure central area of ​​the capital, a few blocks from the office of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police said the gunmen rushed into the Bondhere area hotel around 8:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Sunday and an operation was underway to “eliminate” them.

More than 12 hours later, witnesses near the scene described hearing loud explosions and gunfire again.

“I saw several military vehicles with special forces heading towards the hotel, and a few minutes later there was heavy gunfire and explosions,” local witness Mahad Yare said.

Dozens of people were rescued from the hotel.

Abdi Hassan, a government employee who lives near the hotel, told The Associated Press he believed several government officials were inside the hotel when the attack began.

Some were seen jumping the perimeter wall to safety while others were rescued, he said.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the “swift” security response to the attack.

On its website, Villa Rose describes the hotel as “the safest accommodation in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.

Al-Shabaab has stepped up its attacks on civilian and military targets as Somalia’s recently elected government has pursued a policy of “all-out war” against Islamists.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives exploded within minutes of each other in Mogadishu, followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives exploded within minutes of each other in Mogadishu, followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

Security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US airstrikes, have driven al-Shabaab from the center of the country in recent months, but the offensive has prompted retaliation.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives exploded within minutes of each other in Mogadishu, followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

It is the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa country in five years.

At least 21 people were killed in a siege of a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces managed to subdue the militants inside.

The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab.

The numbers were the highest since 2017 and an increase of over 30% from last year.

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