A British man is reportedly among four victims who were killed by Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia after they stormed a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu last night.
The Briton, who arrived in Somalia less than two weeks ago, was shot dead by the gunmen as they opened fire at guests inside the popular Villa Rose hotel.
The hotel siege is still ongoing today – gunfire and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after the militants, wearing suicide vests, stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets.
‘So far we have confirmed the death of four people’, he said, adding that others had been rescued from the besieged venue.
‘Very soon the situation will return to normal.’
Mohamed Doodishe, the country’s security minister, was among those injured in the attack. He was among scores of people who were rescued from the hotel.
The Villa Rose is frequented by politicians and located in a secure central part of the capital just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police said the gunmen rushed into the hotel in Bondhere district at around 8:00 pm on Sunday and an operation was underway to ‘eliminate’ them.
More than 12 hours later, witnesses near the scene described still hearing loud explosions and gunfire.
In a statement late Sunday, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the ‘swift’ security response to the attack.
On its website the Villa Rose describes the hotel as the ‘most secure lodging arrangement in Mogadishu’ with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.
Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia’s recently-elected government has pursue a policy of ‘all-out war’ against the Islamists.