By: Zakariye Ahmed, Horn diplomat correspondent
Security forces in Somalia have ended a 6-hour siege of Pearl Beach hotel in Mogadishu’s beachside, after seven Al-Shabaab militants attacked the hotel at 7:55 PM local time, according to a police statement.
Police added that the siege ended at around 2 AM midnight, following a fierce gunfight between security forces and the militants, all of whom were killed during the battle.
Police reported that at least six civilians and three soldiers were killed, with 10 others wounded, in the Al-Shabaab’s attack on Friday night at Pearl Beach hotel.
Security forces managed to rescue 84 people, including children, women, and elders, the police said.
The Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, officially claimed responsibility hours after five militants stormed the hotel, following two attackers detonating a car bomb at the entrance of the hotel.
In a statement, Al-Shabaab claimed the killing of 29 people, including soldiers, in the attack. However, there is no independent confirmation of this.
Pearl Beach Hotel, which was targeted by the Al-Shabaab attack, was a popular spot for families and government officials, located a few meters away from the Turkish and UAE embassies in Mogadishu.
This is the second hotel siege in Mogadishu since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May 2022, following Al-Shabaab’s attack on Hayat Hotel in August 2022, where 21 people died, 117 were wounded, and 106 people were rescued.
In August of last year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced a ‘total war’ against the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab. In March, the defense minister, Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, told that the government-led forces killed 3,000 Al-Shabaab militants and wounded 3,700 others.
This attack comes as Somalia’s government is in the final preparations for the second phase of military operations against Al-Shabaab. Non-ATMIS troops from neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti will participate in the final push for joint operations against Al-Shabaab.