Gunmen Storm Mogadishu Hotel, Trapping Government Officials
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Gunmen wearing suicide vests and believed to be members of a militant group attacked a hotel popular with government officials in the capital of Somalia on Sunday, according to the police.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but security forces rescued dozens of civilians and officials, including the fisheries minister, from the hotel, the Villa Rose. Others remained trapped inside.
The militant group, Al Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group also said its fighters were conducting an assault on Somalia’s presidential palace, which is near the hotel.
The number of attackers was not immediately clear. The extremist group has frequently targeted hotels where government officials gather or reside. The siege at Villa Rose was still taking place late Sunday.
As the attack began, two large explosions and heavy gunfire were heard.
Some government officials were rescued after escaping through windows, the police told reporters. Among those rescued was the country’s minister of fisheries, Abdilahi Bidhan Warsame, and a senator, Dunia Mohamed.
Local news reports said that the internal security minister, Mohamed Doodishe, was injured in the attack. The reports could not be independently verified.
Adam Aw Hirsi, the state minister for the environment, wrote on Twitter that he was safe after a “terrorist explosion targeted” his residence at the hotel, where many government officials are known to stay.
On Friday, Shabaab militants attacked a military base in the village of Qayib, in the central Galgaduud region, a government minister told reporters, prompting violent clashes as the army tried to repel them.