Multiple reports close to the security operation seeking to dislodge Al-Shabaab fighters inside the Hayat Hotel at KM4 of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, confirm up to 18 were killed inside the hotel until the siege began sometime at 7:00 p.m. Friday evening.
On a final tally, though, the number killed or injured does not completely agree with original figures bandied. It could be less or more.
Abdirahman Hassan Iman, the owner, sources add, is reported among the dead.
One of the main hospitals in the capital not far away from the scene of the operation stated that it was treating – or has treated – around 40 wounded since the raid began. Others might have been taken to other health facilities in the vicinity.
The Head of the regional NISA operations, Muhiaddin Warba’ Shaddor, is among the wounded. His injuries were termed as light and not life-threatening.
More than twenty-three hours after a militant attack on the hotel at the centre – one of the busiest junctions of the city – began, sporadic exchange of fire and explosions can still be heard inside the hotel.
Many of the outbuildings of the hotel and some sections of the hotel proper were blown away by government forces to clear a line of fire into the fourth floor most of the determined fighters are firing from entrenched behind vantage, well-positioned positions that give them command of most of the hotel grounds.
The raid, according to media reports, began with the usual explosive-laden vehicle blowing away the front gate taking with it most of the front walls and security checkpoints inside. Then an unspecified number of heavily armed, battle-ready militants stormed into the building soon wholly taking it over.
Soon after, the militants started shooting occupants one by one, hunting down any tenant or visitor who remotely looked like a government official, an MP, an elder or a business person.
The hotel, located strategically, in a well-guarded, relatively secure area of the city adjacent to or opening to the airport, the Criminal Investigation Department HQ, banks and many more key installations, was frequently used by well-established patrons in government or favoured by it.
Up to this hour, the militants are successfully holding off government security forces.
In another loosely related incident, around 20 people got injured in the Hamr Jajab district of the city, in an area that also housed the Police Academy, when a number of mortar shells landed on a residential area after midnight Friday. the shelling might have been meant to create a diversion of security forces singularly concentrated in and around the Hayat Hotel.
This is the first major attack since the incumbent president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been elected to replace his predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’, on May 15, 2022.