Police in Somalia say nine people, including three soldiers, were killed in Friday (June 9) night’s extremist attack on a beachside hotel in the capital, Mogadishu.
The police statement published on Saturday said 10 other people were wounded while 84 people were rescued from the hourslong assault that ended early Saturday morning.
Al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack. The extremist group is known for carrying out attacks on hotels and other high-profile locations in Mogadishu, usually starting with a suicide bombing.
Witnesses had told The Associated Press that some people were trapped inside the Pearl Beach hotel, which is popular with government officials. The Lido Beach area is one of Mogadishu’s most popular.
Abdulkadir Adan, the director of Amin Ambulance service, said that “what occurred last night was quite tragic as it occurred in an unexpected setting and at an unexpected time.”
The assault began just before 8:00 pm on Friday (1700 GMT) when seven attackers stormed the Pearl Beach hotel, a popular spot at Lido Beach along Mogadishu’s coastline.
It ended at around 2:00 am, police said, after a fierce gunfight between security forces and the militants, all of whom were killed during the battle.
Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and explosions at the hotel on Lido beach.
“I was near the Pearl Beach restaurant when (a) heavy explosion occurred in front of the building,” one witness, Abdirahim Ali, told AFP.
Yaasin Nur was at the restaurant and told AFP it was “full of people as it was recently renovated”.
Last year was the deadliest for civilians in Somalia since 2017 after the Islamist Al-Shabaab group stepped up its insurgency, the UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in a report unveiled last February.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, the UN mission in Somalia recorded a more than 150 percent increase in the number of civilian casualties, to 1,059 including 382 dead, most of them attributed to Al-Shabaab, he said.