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Siege on Somalian Hotel Kills Eight Civilians, Sixty Rescued by Police Forces

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: December 1, 2022
The damaged structure of the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu is seen on Aug. 21, 2022. On Nov. 28, 2022, in yet another siege at the popular Villa Rays Hotel in Mogadishu, eight civilians were killed in a protracted battle between Somali security forces and the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab. (Image: HASSAN ALI ELMI/AFP via Getty Images)

On Nov. 28, militants attacked a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing eight civilians in a protracted siege against Somali security forces. 

With all the militants killed, authorities were able to save 60 civilians, including several government officials.

Hotel besieged

The siege occurred at the popular Villa Rays hotel, located near the presidential palace, with witnesses reporting they heard explosions and gunfire at the location.

“We were shaken by a huge blast, followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire,” resident Ahmed Abdullahi told Reuters.

It lasted for more than 20 hours, and claimed a total of 14 lives. Security forces were able to finish the siege and liberate the hotel, federal police spokesman Sadik Adan Ali Dodishe said.

The militants who attacked the hotel were part of the al-Shabab organization, which claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is affiliated with al-Qaeda and has been fighting against the Somali government for more than a decade, aiming to establish its rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Five of the militants were killed by security forces during the siege, with the last of the group blowing himself up.

Tragically, alongside the eight civilian casualties, one Somali soldier was killed while eight others were wounded, a police spokesperson said.

Speaking to VOA News, experts believe that the attack was orchestrated in response to al-Shabab losses from offensives by the Somali government in the country’s central provinces. In fact, the hotel is a popular spot for government officials — some of whom were in the building when the militants attacked.

One minister, Mohamed Ahmed, was reported to be injured in the siege, while Adam Aw Hirsi, the Environment Minister, survived the assault.

“We prayed evening prayers in the small mosque in the hotel and there is this big explosion, deafening explosion, massive, that shattered glass everywhere, that shook the foundation of the building in which we were meeting,” Hirsi told the BBC

“As soon as the explosion took place we had a 120 seconds leeway between the explosion and the terrorist foot soldiers coming,” he added.


Offensive against al-Shabab

The attack on the Villa Rays hotel is the second siege to occur in Mogadishu in less than three months. In late August, the group attacked the Hayat hotel, taking the lives of more than 20 people.

al-Shabab stepped up its aggressive attacks after the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in May this year, before he declared “total war” against the militants after the Hayat attack.

On Oct. 30, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack near a junction that killed at least 100 people. 

“Our people who were massacred… included mothers with their children in their arms, fathers who had medical conditions, students who were sent to study, businessmen who were struggling with the lives of their families,” the President said after the bombing.

The government and al-Shabab have continued to exchange gunfire across central and southern Somalia, with the former backed by African Union forces and local militias.

In recent days, the government claimed that around 40 al-Shabab fighters were killed during the months-long offensive against the militant group, Reuters reported.