9 killed, 47 wounded in Somali hotel attack: minister

9 killed, 47 wounded in Somali hotel attack: minister
An attack on a hotel in southern Somalia ended after an hours-long standoff with several killed and wounded
3 min read
The port city is the latest to be hit following a resurgence of bloody attacks in recent months by Al-Shabaab [Getty/archive]

An attack Sunday by Al-Shabaab militants on a hotel in Kismayo, southern Somalia, killed nine people and wounded another 47, the region's security minister said.

Among the casualties were students leaving a nearby school at the time of the attack, Yusuf Hussein Osman told reporters. All of the attackers, including one suicide bomber, had been killed, he added.

Police put the provisional death toll for civilians at four on Sunday afternoon.

The port city is the latest to be hit following a resurgence of bloody attacks in recent months by the Al-Qaeda-linked group, which has mainly targeted the capital Mogadishu and central Somalia.

Sunday's assault began at 12:45 pm (0945 GMT) when a booby-trapped car rammed the entrance of Hotel Tawakal. It ended around 7:00 pm after the three attackers were killed by security forces.

"The situation has returned to normal, all three attackers are dead now. The security forces are in control of the situation," Mohamed Hassan, a police officer, said.

Earlier on Sunday, officials said that as security forces sought to bring the siege to an end, they had killed two assailants.

"This is not a government target," police officer Abdullahi Ismail said. "It is just an ordinary, civilian-frequented hotel."

Witness Abdirashid Adan, who lives close to the hotel, said "the building is secured now, there is no gunfire.

"I can see movement is returning gradually in the area but there are still members of the security forces restricting traffic movement," Adan added.

Another witness, Farhan Hassan, was outside the hotel when the attack happened and said "a suicide bomber drove a vehicle into the entrance of the hotel before the gunmen entered the building".

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying members of the federal government of Jubaland, where Kismayo is located, were meeting in the hotel at the time.

Al-Shabaab has been trying to overthrow the government for more than 15 years and regularly attacks civilian and military targets.

Kismayo was once an Al-Shabaab stronghold before it was taken over in 2012 by local militias backed by Kenyan forces.

In August the group launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 people and wounding 117.

In 2019, the group conducted a similar attack on a hotel in Kismayo, killing 26 and injuring 56.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in May, vowed after the siege in August to wage "all-out war" on the Islamists.

In September he urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by jihadists, saying the armed forces and tribal militia were ratcheting up offensives against them.

A joint US-Somali drone strike killed one of the militants' most senior commanders on October 1.

Just hours after his death was announced, a triple bombing in the southern city of Beledweyne killed at least 30 people.

In addition to violence, Somalia - like its neighbours in the Horn of Africa - is in the grip of the worst drought in more than 40 years. Four failed rainy seasons have wiped out livestock and crops.

Some 7.8 million Somalis - nearly half the population - are affected by the drought and 213,000 are on the brink of famine as a result, according to the United Nations