Soldiers investigated for role in Somalia hotel attack, says PM

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, announced on Friday that an investigation is underway into soldiers arrested on suspicion of facilitating a recent attack on the Villa Rays Hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu. 

The hotel, located near the heavily fortified presidential palace and popular with government officials, was attacked by the extremist group Al-Shabab on November 27 last year.

During an interview with state TV, the Prime Minister said, “We want a thorough investigation, but I can assure you that all those suspected have been arrested, and their investigation is underway.”

According to the police, the attack on the Villa Rays Hotel began with a suicide bombing, after which Al-Shabab fighters stormed the building. 

Security forces could kill five of the attackers and rescue 60 civilians, but not before eight civilians were killed in the attack. One soldier was also killed, and five others were wounded in the operation to retake the hotel.

The Prime Minister did not specify the number of soldiers arrested in connection with the attack or when the investigation would be completed. No one has yet been brought to court in relation to the attack.

Experts believe that the attack was a retaliation by Al-Shabab after losing ground in recent offensives by the Somali government against the militant group in the country’s central provinces. 

At the time, it was the second deadly siege in the Somali capital in less than three months, with the Hayat hotel being attacked in late August last year. That attack, which lasted nearly 30 hours and resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people, was also carried out by Al-Shabab. 

The group has increased its attacks since President Mohamud was elected in May and declared a “total war” against the militants.