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Terrorism

Unidentified attackers take control of Hayat Hotel in Somali capital

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Unidentified attackers have taken control of a hotel in the Somali capital following two car bomb blasts and gunfire, police and intelligence officers said on Friday.

“Two car bombs targeted Hotel Hayat. One hit a barrier near the hotel and then the other hit the gate of the hotel. We believe the fighters are inside the hotel,” a police officer who gave his name as only Ahmed, told Reuters.

Two intelligence officers, who did not want to be identified, also confirmed the incident.

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The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist group statements.

There were no immediate details available on any casualties, though explosions were still being heard from the hotel’s direction, a Reuters witness said.

The Hayat Hotel is a popular venue with lawmakers and other government officials.

Friday’s attack is the first major attack since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past. In August 2020, it said it was behind an attack on another hotel in Mogadishu in which at least 16 people were killed.

The group has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

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