| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Somalia blast hits Kismayu hotel, at least 3 dead

In the coastal city of Kismayu in Somalia, an explosives-packed car crashed into a hotel gate and exploded, according to a police official. He added that gunfire also broke out during the incident, which left at least three people dead.

According to Farah Mohamed, a security officer, who was speaking to Reuters from Kismayu, “Three people have died so far and eight others have been injured and sent to Kismayu hospital.”

Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the “terrorist incident” at the hotel, according to the state-run Somali National Television, which reported it on Twitter.

“When the blast and attack occurred there was a meeting in the hotel, a plan to launch a massive war on al Shabaab,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed Nur, a police captain, and Farah Ali, a shopkeeper in Kismayu, told Reuters the blast at Tawakal Hotel preceded the gunfire.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesperson, said the group was behind the attack, and intended to strike Jubbaland region’s administrators who work from the hotel.

Kismayu is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.

Al Shabaab was driven out of Kismayu in 2012. The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.

In 2019, a similar attack at another hotel in Kismayu killed at least 26 people.

The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

Somali security forces say they have made gains on the battlefield against al Shabaab in recent weeks while fighting alongside local self-defence groups, but the group has continued to carry out deadly raids.

  • Reuters