Somalia blast hits Kismayu hotel, at least three dead, police say

MOGADISHU, Oct 23 (Reuters) – A car bomb and shooting attack on a hotel in Somalia’s Kismayo city killed at least three people on Sunday, police said.

Gunfire erupted after an explosives-laden vehicle rammed into the gate of the port city’s Tawakal Hotel. The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group said it had carried out the attack.

“So far there are three people dead and eight others injured, who were taken to Kismayu hospital,” Farah Mohamed, a security officer told Reuters from Kismayu.

The state-run Somali National Television said on Twitter security forces were dealing with a “terrorist incident” at the hotel.

“When the blast and attack occurred there was a meeting in the hotel, a plan to launch a massive war on al Shabaab,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed Nur, a police captain, and Farah Ali, a shopkeeper in Kismayu, told Reuters the blast at Tawakal Hotel preceded the gunfire.

Video footage from the Somali National Television posted on its Twitter account showed security personnel load one of the wounded into an ambulance.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesperson, said the group was behind the attack, which he said was intended to strike Jubbaland region’s administrators who work from the hotel.

Mohamed Nasi Guled , Jubbaland’s deputy chief of police, said on Somali National Television there were three attackers at the hotel and police were working to end the attack as soon as possible, asking residents to stay calm.

Kismayu is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.

Al Shabaab was driven out of Kismayu in 2012. The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.

In 2019, a similar attack at another hotel in Kismayu killed at least 26 people.

The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

Somali security forces say they have made gains on the battlefield against al Shabaab in recent weeks while fighting alongside local self-defence groups, but the group has continued to carry out deadly raids.

Source: Reuters