Thursday, February 23, 2017
   
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Al-Shabab hits Hotel Ambassador in Somalia's Mogadishu

Gunfire dies down inside building, a day after deaths of at least 16 people, including two MPs, in coordinated attack.

Mogadishu

Somali authorities say at least 16 people have been killed and 55 more wounded in a car bomb and gun attack on a hotel in the centre of Mogadishu.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard on Thursday, a day after the attack on Hotel Ambassador.

Al-Shabaab, the anti-government group affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack.

Two legislators were among the dead.

"So far we have confirmed that 16 people, mostly civilians, died and 55 others were injured," Major Nur Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters news agency on Thursday.

He said gunfire had died down at the hotel, adding: "We suspect the roof top is not safe. Security forces are inside from the first to fourth floor."

Government forces have blocked off all the main roads near the hotel.

Extensively damaged

Reuters witnesses said intermittent gunfire could still be heard at the Hotel Ambassador, a five-storey building which has been extensively damaged.

Relatives were gathering at hospitals and at the hotel searching for loved ones, with some people believed trapped inside.

A Reuters witness heard one man on the fifth floor crying out: "Please rescue me."

Sources earlier said that at least three fighters were involved in the attack.

The attack happened shortly before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Mogadishu.

In February, at least nine people were killed when al-Shabab fighters set off a car bomb at the gate of a popular park near a hotel in the capital.

In January, an attack on a beach-front restaurant killed at least 17 people.

Loss of strongholds

Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM in 2011.

Last year it was turfed out from strongholds elsewhere in the south by AMISOM and the Somali National Army.

However, it has remained a potent threat in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the government.

The group has also been behind deadly attacks in Kenya and Uganda. Both contribute troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.


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