Nine killed after hotel attack in Mogadishu, the Somali capital

Nine people died after al Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgents stormed a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, battling security forces until the early hours of Monday, a police spokesman said.

A suicide car bombing on Sunday evening was followed by a shootout between al Shabaab militants and security forces at the Hotel Afrik.

“The operation is over now. Nine people including four attackers died and over 10 civilians were injured”, said Sadik Ali.

The attack on a hotel in the heart of the heavily fortified city comes as Somali politicians wrangle acrimoniously over delayed elections and follows the withdrawal of around 700 American military personnel last month.

The insurgency has battled since 2008 to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed central government and establish its rule, based on its own harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

It carries out regular gun and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia.

It has also vowed to disrupt national elections, which were scheduled to begin in December but have been delayed after the opposition accused the president of packing the electoral board with his allies. Newly appointed legislators were meant to pick a president on Feb. 8, but even the elections for lawmakers have yet to be held.

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Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said in a statement that former military general Mohamed Nur Galal was among those killed in Monday’s attack.

“I condemn the barbaric attack,” he said. “General Mohamed Nur Galal will be remembered for his over 50 year role in defending the country.”

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