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Somalia: Security troops end Al-Shabaab-claimed hotel siege

Somali state television said early Saturday (June 10) that security troops had ended the siege of a hotel in Mogadishu. According to authorities, six individuals were murdered and ten more were injured.

Fighters from the Islamist Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack which took place on Friday (June 9), south of the capital.

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Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and explosions.

“Tonight, we saw a big disaster here at Lido beach at (Mogadishu’s, ed) Abdiaziz District as I was having fun with my friend,” eyewitness Yahye Mohamed told an AFP journalist.

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“As soon as the first blast rocked area, I saw a lady fall on ground, dead, after she’d been hit by shrapnel from the explosion. May Allah have mercy on the killed people.”

Al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate, al-Shabab, is known for carrying out attacks on hotels and other high-profile locations in Mogadishu, usually starting with a suicide bombing.

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The Pearl Beach hotel is down the street from the Turkish Embassy and is popular with government officials.

“Instantly fled for cover”

Hassan Abdirahman told The Associated Press that he was in the restaurant at the time.

“I heard the sound of gunshots which came from the beach direction and followed by the huge sound of an explosion.” He said that he escaped and saw damaged vehicles along the street.

Mulki Osman also says he and his friends “instantly fled for cover” in the restaurant when they heard explosions and gunfire shortly before 8 p.m.

“Some of my friends are still stuck inside the hotel, but the security officers managed to rescue me. I hope they stay safe,” he said.

Lido Beach is one of Mogadishu’s most popular areas and is busy on Friday nights as Somalis enjoy the weekend by visiting local coffee shops and ice cream parlors.

Last year, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud launched an “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the jihadist group he described as “bedbugs”.

Al-Shabaab fighters killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers in an attack on an African Union base in the southern town of Bulo Marer last month.

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