- A suicide bomber threw a car containing explosives at the Asasey Hotel in Kismayo port, and then snipers attacked the building.
- Local politicians and clan leaders were inside the hotel discussing a regional election that will happen in a short time when the attack began.
- Somalia has frequent extremist attacks, but since the al-Shabab group was expelled from Kismayo in 2012, the port had been in peace.
At least 26 people, including a prominent journalist in Canada and several foreigners, were killed in an attack on a hotel in southern Somalia. A suicide bomber drove a car containing explosives at the Asasey Hotel in Kismayo Port, and then snipers attacked the building. Journalist Hodan Naleyah and her husband are believed to be among the dead.
The Islamic militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. A local politician, three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans, and one Briton also died, officials said.
How did the attack happen?
Local politicians and clan leaders were inside the hotel discussing a regional election that will happen in a short time when the attack began. Witnesses said they heard a huge explosion before gunmen forced into the building.
“It was chaos, I saw several bodies being carried and people fleeing from the surrounding buildings,” says Hussein Muktar, one of the witnesses. Several hours passed before authorities could regain control of the hotel. Officials say 26 people have died and more than 56 have been injured. Four extremists were also killed.
Who were the victims?
The Somali Journalists Association says Nalayeh and her husband Farid are among the dead. The 43-year-old journalist has set up a platform called Integration TV to tell stories about life in the country and about the Somali diaspora. Nalayeh moved to Canada with her family at age 6 and eventually became a key figure in the Somali community in the country, but recently returned to Somalia.
Journalist Farhan Jimale was one of those who paid tribute to Nalayeh, saying that she was a “very beautiful soul.” Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said she was a “voice that represented many.” Nalayeh and reporter Mohamed Omar Sahal, who also died in the attack, were the first journalists to die in the country this year, according to the Somali Journalists Association.
How often does this type of attack occur?
Somalia has frequent extremist attacks, but since the al-Shabab group was expelled from Kismayo in 2012, the port had been in peace.
Islamist radicals have frequently carried out attacks in the capital Mogadishu, despite the presence of African Union peacekeepers and Somali-trained US troops.
Al-Shabab is an extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda and remains a powerful presence in the country’s rural regions.
Meaning of Al-Shabab
The official name of the group is Karakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin (Movement of Young Mujahideen) but it is known outside of Somalia as Al Shabab, which means “Youth”
When it was founded?
Although its origins are uncertain, one of the first records of the existence of Al Shabab is its status as an armed wing of the Islamic Council of Somali Courts that seized much of southern Somalia in the second half of 2006.
Before the attack this Friday in Mogadishu, the actions of Al Shabab that received more international coverage were two massacres that occurred in neighboring Kenya.
In April 2015, the organization attacked a campus of Garissa University, in the northeast of that country, and left 147 students dead.