SOMALIA: Islamist attackers gun down 19 civilians at Mogadishu hotel

SOMALIA: Islamist attackers gun down 19 civilians at Mogadishu hotel

The toll from an attack carried out by al-Shabaab terror group here early on Thursday rose to at least 25 people killed, in addition to 21 who were wounded, the police said.

A suicide auto bombing and assault by Shabaab militants on two neighbouring restaurants in Somalia┬┤s capital Mogadishu ended Thursday morning with 18 dead, a government spokesman said.

The attack occurred less than a week after militants from the Shabab extremist group killed dozens of people – both soldiers and civilians, including children – when they stormed a military base in northeastern Somalia.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, which was triggered by a suicide vehicle bomber and targeted customers who frequent the restaurant and adjacent hotel. Residents reported gunshots during the night.

Mogadishu ambulance services said they evacuated 26 people who were wounded in the attack.

The two restaurants are frequented by government officials and young people. Numerous first victims were young men who had been entering the Pizza House when the bomb went off, Hussein said. Another picture showed relatives of the victims killed in the attack weeping outside the building. “We do not know how many of those are dead or alive”.

Security forces rescued Asian, Ethiopian, Kenyan and other workers from a neighboring restaurant as the attack continued, Hussein said.

“They were killing people on sight”.

On its website, the group said it targeted the restaurants “because there are women who sell their body for money”. The operation goes on, ‘ he said.

In the recent months, Al-Shabab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, has launched a series of deadly attacks on Mogadishu and other government-held regions.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on pro-insurgent radio station Andalus shortly after the attack. On Sunday, the USA military reported that it killed eight Islamic extremists in an airstrike on a rebel command and logistics camp in the country’s south.

According to the report, five special forces members also died during a fierce gun battle with the al-Shabab militants in the restaurant.