By : Zakeriye ahmed Horndiplomat Correspondent
After over 20 hours, Somalia’s government forces ended Mogadishu’s key hotel of Villa Rays’ siege. The stormed hotel was located in Mogadishu’s highly protected government areas, not far from the country’s presidential palace, Villa Somalia.
At least nine people, including one soldier, were killed, and five soldiers were wounded during the Villa Rays hotel attack, according to Somalia’s police spokesman Sadik Duudishe. On the other hand, security forces rescued 60 people, including senior officials, during the hotel siege.
Six Al-Shabab militants attacked Villa Rays hotel, and one of them suicide at the hotel’s gate on Sunday evening. The other five militants stormed the hotel where many senior government officials, from ministers to MPs, stay.
Among the senior government officials at the hotel were Somalia’s state minister of environment and climate change, Adam Aw Hirsi and the internal security minister Mohamed Doodishe who was injured while fleeing the scene.
Minutes after the explosion Somalia’s state minister for the environment and climate change, Adam Aw Hirsi, tweeted, “I am safe from a terrorist explosion targeted at my residence, Villa Rays. Thanks to Allah”.
Al-Qaeda’s terrorist-linked group Al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for the Villa Rays hotel attack, according to the group’s affiliated media.
Somalia’s lower and senate lawmakers’ houses had cancelled Monday’s session because of Villa Rays’ attack. The session agenda was on the country’s 2023 budget, which the country’s cabinet endorsed recently.
The attack comes days after Somalia’s federal army and local community fighters, along with international allies, killed last two weeks more than 100 Al-Shabab militants in the central regions of Hiran and the Middle Shabelle.
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre’s office, released a statement celebrating the cabinet’s first 100 days’ achievements, including security, drought, and reconciliation. “My administration fought Al-Shabab militarily, economically, and ideologically”, he said in the statement.
Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre added that the government forces killed more than 600 Al-Shabab militants and wounded 1,200 others while liberating 68 areas in the southern and central provinces of the country.
Villa Rays’ hotel attack will be the second longest siege in Mogadishu after Al-Shabab stormed Hayat hotel for more than a day, killing at least 21 people while wounding 117 others in August.
On October 29, Al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for Mogadishu’s busiest intersection of Zoobe’s double bombing, where at least 100 died while more than 300 were injured while targeting Somalia’s education ministry.