Islamists still manifest themselves in Somalia. As of this writing, al-Shabaab was attacking a hotel in central Mogadishu near the presidential palace on Sunday evening. “Tonight, a group of al-Shabaab militants attacked a hotel in the Bondher district, and security forces are working to eliminate them,” National Police spokesman Sadiq Dudishe said.
He added that many civilians and politicians had already been rescued and evacuated from this establishment, the Rose Villa. “I was near Villa Rose when the hotel was rocked by two big explosions. There was heavy shooting. The area was cordoned off and I saw people running away,” said witness Aadan Hussain from Mogadishu.
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Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Shebab group, linked to al-Qaeda, which for 15 years tried to overthrow the central government of Somalia. The Villa Rose Hotel is a popular spot with Somali MPs, located in the central safe area of Mogadishu, close to the office of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
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Villa Rose is described on its website as “the safest accommodation in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall. The African Union Force in Somalia (Atmis) condemned the attack and “praised” on Twitter “the Somali security forces for their prompt response to prevent further casualties and property damage.”
This new attack comes as the newly elected President of Somalia decided in May to launch an “all out war” against Shebab for three months. Thus, the Somali army, with the support of local clans, atmis, and with the support of American air strikes, regained control over the province of Hiran and large areas of Middle Shabel in the center of the country. But the rebels responded with a series of bloody attacks, highlighting their ability to strike at the heart of Somali cities and military installations.
On 29 October, two car bombs exploded within minutes of Mogadishu, killing 121 people and injuring 333. The deadliest attack in five years in this fragile country in the Horn of Africa.
A triple explosion in central Beledweyne in early October also killed 30 people, including local officials, and killed at least 21 hotel guests in Mogadishu during a 30-hour siege in August. According to the UN, at least 613 civilians have already been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab. The highest performance since 2017 and an increase of more than 30% compared to last year.