Six civilians lost their lives and ten others were injured during a six-hour siege conducted by Al-Shabaab militants at a popular beachside hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, according to the police.
Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group, has been engaged in a long-standing conflict against the internationally supported federal government, frequently targeting hotels that often accommodate high-ranking Somali and foreign officials.
The Somali Police Force released a statement confirming the casualties, stating, “Six civilians were martyred in the attack and 10 others were wounded.
Three brave members of the security forces were martyred during the rescue operation.”
The assault, claimed by Al-Shabaab, began on Friday evening at approximately 8:00 pm local time when seven attackers stormed the Pearl Beach hotel situated along Mogadishu’s coastline at Lido Beach.
The siege concluded at around 2:00 am, following an intense gunfight between the militants and security forces, resulting in the death of all the attackers.
During the operation, the police were successful in rescuing 84 individuals, including women, children, and elderly individuals, as reported in the police statement.
Eyewitnesses recounted hearing gunshots and explosions at the Pearl Beach hotel.
Abdirahim Ali, one witness, recalled, “I was near the Pearl Beach restaurant when a heavy explosion occurred in front of the building. I managed to flee, but there was heavy gunfire afterward, and the security forces rushed to the area.”
Another witness, Yaasin Nur, who was present at the restaurant during the attack, expressed concern for his colleagues who were unaccounted for, stating, “I’m worried because there are several of my colleagues who went there, and two of them are not responding to their phones.”
The attack at Lido Beach serves as a stark reminder of the persistent security challenges faced by Somalia, a country striving to overcome decades of conflict and natural disasters. Al-Shabaab, despite being driven out of major urban areas by an African Union force, still controls significant rural territories and continues to launch attacks against security forces and civilians, including in the capital.
Omar Mahmood, an analyst for Eastern Africa at the International Crisis Group, commented, “The attack in a popular Mogadishu neighborhood is a bit of a shock, given that security was thought to be improving in recent weeks.
It seems that Al-Shabaab is undertaking a series of attacks to impede a potential offensive by the government and its allies.”
Last year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared an “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab following a 30-hour siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August 2022, which claimed the lives of 21 people and left 117 others wounded.
The incident raised concerns about the effectiveness of the security forces in safeguarding heavily fortified areas.
In a separate attack two months later, twin car bombings in Mogadishu resulted in the deaths of 121 people and injured 333, marking the deadliest assault in the country in five years.
Efforts to combat Al-Shabaab have been undertaken by the Somali army and militias, known as “macawisley,” with support from the African Union mission ATMIS and US airstrikes.
However, Al-Shabaab recently targeted an African Union base in Bulo Marer, resulting in the deaths of 54 Ugandan peacekeepers.
In August 2020, Al-Shabaab launched a large-scale attack on the Elite hotel, another establishment located at Lido Beach that is frequented by officials, leading to the deaths of ten civilians and a police officer.
It took security forces four hours to regain control of the