The Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a hotel in Mogadishu Sunday, leaving at least 12 people dead, including the owner of the hotel, a military commander and two lawmakers.
Authorities say the militants set off a car bomb at the entrance of the Sahafi Hotel in Somalia's capital. Following the blast, gunmen stormed the hotel, which is popular with government officials and business executives.
Attackers wearing Burundian military uniforms
Somali Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed told VOA the attackers, all of whom were killed by security forces, were wearing Burundian military uniforms which he says they may have obtained during al-Shabab’s deadly attack on a Burundian military base in Leego in June this year. He said some of the attackers are “foreign-looking” but says they are still investigating to determine exact identification.
Security officials said the attack, which started at daybreak, was over by midday.
Among those killed was General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhagabadan, a former army commander who led the offensive that forced al-Shabab to retreat from Mogadishu in August 2011. General Dhagabadan previously survived several al-Shabab attempts on his life.
Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Sunday.
In recent months, al-Shabab has blown up another Mogadishu hotel, overrun three African Union peacekeepers' bases in Somalia and detonated a bomb on the grounds of Somalia's presidential palace.
The groups controlled most of southern Somalia as recently as 2010, but was pushed into the countryside by African Union and Somali government forces. The militants carry out frequent attacks, often targeting government officials and African Union troops.
The group seeks to impose a strict form of Islamic law on the country and has frequently beheaded, stoned to death or amputated the limbs of people accused of various crimes.
VOA's Somali service contributed to this report.