24 hours after an Islamist militant group assaulted a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, fighting is still going on there.
Al-attack Shabab has claimed the lives of at least 12 people, however, some local media outlets have speculated the number could be higher.
On Friday night, the attackers set up at least two explosive devices outside the hotel before breaking in.
There are still gunmen holding captives inside in an undetermined number.
Numerous visitors and employees have been saved.
An intelligence officer who only revealed his first name as Mohammed earlier told Reuters news agency that “so far we have confirmed 12 individuals, largely civilians, perished.”
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After the initial assault, a website connected to al-Shabab claimed that a group of militants had “forcibly entered” the hotel, which was a well-liked gathering place for federal government workers.
💥 #BREAKING #Somalia 🇸🇴: Terrorist attack in Somalia's capital, #Mogadishu.
Several powerful explosions are reported near the #Hayat hotel.
The hotel was stormed by Al-Shabaab militants according to eyewitnesses.
Several dead and injured. pic.twitter.com/yji5Ov1y9k
— Militant.André.D (@Circonscripti18) August 19, 2022
According to Dr. Mohamed Abdirahman Jama, the head of Mogadishu’s primary trauma hospital, the hospital is currently caring for at least 40 victims of both the hotel attack and a separate mortar attack on a different part of the capital.
Family members of those who are still missing or trapped outside the hotel, local journalist Abdalle Mumin told the BBC.
“There are many efforts underway, the ambulance, the firefighters, the police, everyone on standby trying to save what they can from the scene,” he said. “However, the scene is very difficult to access because civilians, relatives to whom we have been talking are saying that their loved ones are still trapped.”
Additionally, there are rumors that there are dead bodies within the hotel, but nobody has been able to enter.
Two car explosives were used in the initial attack on the hotel, a police officer said in a statement to Reuters.
The first one “struck a barrier close to the hotel, and then the second one hit the hotel gate,” he claimed.
At the time of the attack, Mr. Mumin, who was in the area of the hotel, claimed to have heard a “big explosion” and rushed to report the event.
“The Hayat hotel was emitting a great deal of smoke, which we could see. There were perhaps five large explosions, followed by shooting “said he.
Al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has been at odds with the central government for a very long time.
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The group has been able to expand its influence into regions under the control of the Mogadishu-based government while still maintaining control over much of southern and central Somalia.
Concerns regarding a potential new tactic by al-Shabab have been raised in recent weeks as a result of fighters connected to the organization attacking areas near the border between Somalia and Ethiopia.
Since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s new president, was elected in May, the group has carried out just one attack in the nation’s capital, on Friday.