At least 26 people were killed in an attack on a hotel in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo, with Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians among the dead, Jubaland region’s president said on Saturday.
Police officer Major Mohamed Abdi earlier told Reuters that security forces had ended the overnight attack.
Islamist group al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s central government, on Friday claimed responsibility for the attack, which saw fighters storm the hotel after targeting it with a car bomb while local elders and lawmakers were meeting to discuss the elections.
This is another sad day for Somali journalists.
Counting the cost
A presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections was also killed in the assault by four militants, Jubaland president Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement. At least two journalists and a U.N. agency staff member were also reported to have been killed.
“Among the dead was also a Jubaland presidential candidate named Shuuriye. Four militants attacked the hotel. One of them was the suicide car bomber, two were shot dead and one was captured alive by Jubaland security forces,” he said.
He added that 56 people had been wounded in the attack, including two Chinese citizens, while three Kenyans, one Briton, two Americans and three Tanzanians were among those killed.
The Somalia office of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration also said on Twitter one of its local staff members, Abdifatah Mohamed, was among those killed.
SADO Somalia, a local non-governmental organisation, also said on Twitter its executive director Abdullahi Isse Abdulle had been killed in the attack.
A journalists’ group had confirmed on Friday that two journalists were among the dead; Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Naleyah, the founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed Sahal Omar, reporter of SBC TV in Kismayo.
Jubbaland president Mohamed said Jama Fariid, Naleyah’s husband, had also been killed.
Separately, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, general secretary of the Federation of Somali Journalists, said in a statement:
“We are saddened and outraged by this loss of life, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling massacre.”
Fighting Al Shabaab
Al Shabaab was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.
It was driven out of Kismayo in 2012. The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.
Kismayo is the commercial capital of Jubaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.
Al Shabaab remains a major security threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.