Kismayo, Washington — Somali security forces say they have ended a seven-hourlong siege on a popular hotel in the coastal town of Kismayo.
Brigadier General Yusuf Hussein Osman Dhumal, the regional security minister, told VOA Somali that the siege at the Tawakal hotel ended after security forces shot and killed three “well-armed” al-Shabab attackers. He said a fourth attacker was a suicide bomber who blew himself up at the start of the incident.
He also said nine people, including civilians and soldiers, were killed and 47 others injured.
Sunday’s attack started with an explosion outside the hotel, followed by the storming of the facility by the armed men. The blast was heard around 12:15 p.m. local time.
Most of the guests were rescued.
Farhan Abdi Afdhub, a local politician, was among those rescued.
“An explosion occurred; I am not sure whether it was a car bomb or someone blowing up,” he said. “I was at the lobby when I saw four attackers with their faces covered, wearing [army] uniform[s], entering the hotel. I run to the room next to the reception. I opened the window, tore the window net, and jumped out. I was rescued by the rescue and ambulance teams.”
Afdhub said he does not know the number of people who were inside the hotel at the time.
The hotel is frequented by local elders and business community leaders.
Also Sunday, the Somali government reiterated a directive to the business community to reject paying extortion money to the militants. Government officials warned the businesses that al-Shabab will use the funds to make bombs and detonate them in public places, as well as carry out assassinations.
Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Al-adala urged the business community to report if al-Shabab calls them demanding extortion money.
Al-adala said the government has set up two hotlines where people can call to report such incidents. He said information about the callers will be protected.
“The system will be protecting your information and your safety,” he said.
“You are not required to tell us your name and your location. All you have to do is share the information about the person seeking the collection of the extortion.”
The United States says al-Shabab generates $100 million per year from various sources.
Al-Shabab has been fighting to topple the internationally recognized Somali government for more than 15 years. Somali government forces supported by local militias, with the backing of African Union forces — are currently engaged in a counterinsurgency offensive — mobilizing against the militant group to defeat it.