Death toll rises to 18 in Somalia bombing, clashes with militants

Mar 04, 2019, 00:45
Death toll rises to 18 in Somalia bombing, clashes with militants

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - A almost day-long siege in the heart of Somalia's capital ended with all of the al-Shabab extremist attackers killed, police said Friday, as the death toll was at 24 and expected to climb.

Somali Islamist militants held civilian hostages during their attack on a hotel in the capital of Mogadishu, state-run Somali News Agency quoted the minister of information on Friday as saying. "The death toll may rise", police Major Musa Ali told Reuters. I and my colleague HM Dahir were sitting down in Maka Almukarama hotel.We first heard gunfire followed by a very demolishing blast The scene changed into darkness.Heavy smoke went high. More than 20 are dead with the number expected to climb as hospitals report more than 50 wounded, many in critical condition.

Mohamed Hussein says an operation to clear the buildings has begun and bodies have been found.

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It came after the USA military carried out a number of deadly airstrikes in recent days against al-Shabab, considered the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

The three blasts "killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more in Mogadishu, and there are fears the toll could rise", said Farah, speaking to CNN by phone from the scene.

Al-Shabab has also carried out attacks in neighboring countries contributing to the African Union gatekeeper force inside Somalia, including one on a hotel and office complex in Kenya in January that killed 21 people. Security forces are still trying to dislodge the Al Shabaab militants from a nearby building.

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Al-Shabaab fighters were pushed out of Somalia's capital in 2011, and subsequently from other towns and cities, by African Union troops. "My husband lost his stomach and my brother suffered severe wounds to both arms", Halima Omar, a mother of three, told Reuters. "We are still inside it", said Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab's military spokesperson.

"It was very hard for the security forces to enter the building last night because it is dark and electricity was cut by the blast". The Somali government responded with its counter-insurgency "Alpha Group", an elite rapid-response force trained by American special forces.

When asked why recent strikes have been deadlier, a spokeswoman said Somali and "partner forces continue to make incursions into territory formerly controlled by al-Shabab", giving them chances to collect more intelligence and develop targets. It announced 47 strikes past year in which scores of militants were killed, and two in January.

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