High casualties in Al Shabab Mogadishu hotel bombing

April FrancisMar 04, 2019

"The death toll may rise and rise", said Abdikadir Admen, the director of the privately-run Amain ambulance service.

At least four gunmen then opened fire at nearby buildings and businesses, sparking clashes with hotel guards, he said.

"Al-Shabaab like attacking Maka al-Mukarama because it is the heart of Somalia", political analyst Hassan Haile told the BBC.

He said early Friday that security forces were still fighting to neutralize some militants holed up inside a building close to Maka Almukarramah hotel, which the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab said had been the target.

"It was very hard for the security forces to enter the building last night because it is dark and electricity was cut by the blast".

"More than 10 people have been killed", said Abdirahman Ali, a national security officer.

But on Thursday in Mogadishu, an Al-Shabaab auto bomb exploded, killing at least 19 people.

Al-Shabab has also carried out attacks in neighboring countries contributing to the African Union gatekeeper force inside Somalia, including one on a hotel and office complex in Kenya in January that killed 21 people.

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Somalia has been convulsed by lawlessness and violence since 1991.

The United Nations mission in Somalia and others in the worldwide community quickly condemned the ongoing attack, one of the worst in Mogadishu in months. Rescue workers compared the carnage to a 2017 truck bombing that killed over 500 people.

Africa Command head General Thomas Waldhauser recently told United States lawmakers that air strikes alone would not stop Shabaab, and he called on Somalia's army to take more responsibility in the fight.

This year, USA strikes targeting al-Shabab fighters have come at an even faster pace.

It was the longest that the militants had held a position in Mogadishu since Somali troops backed by African Union peacekeepers forced them out of the city in 2011.

The announcement comes a day after three deadly vehicle bombings took the lives of at least 20 people in the capital Mogadishu in attacks the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab took responsibility for.

The movement and mobilization of a large portion of al-Shabab military attacks also were weakened by a dramatic increase in the number of US airstrikes. The U.S. military command for Africa reported a new one that killed 26 al-Shabab fighters on Thursday in central Somalia, where two strikes earlier this week killed 55.

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