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16 Suspects Arrested in Somalia Hotel Attack

by Laacib

Somalia’s security agents have arrested 16 people in connection with the March 14 attack on an upscale hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the government has announced.

The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said the suspects included a man accused of being the “mastermind” of the attack.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Information, the government also accused the key suspect of facilitating the smuggling of the vehicles that al-Shabab militants used for the attack.

Also arrested were four people who are registered as owners of two vehicles the militant group used for the attack. The government said it is also investigating five members of the government’s own security personnel who were stationed at the checkpoints the attackers passed through.

Five al-Shabab militants stormed the hotel around 9:15 p.m. local time on March 14 after detonating a vehicle-borne explosive device outside the building. The attackers were overwhelmed early the following morning after an hours-long battle.

The government did not give specific details of the time arrests were made. Also, no further details were given about the other suspects arrested.

“Apprehending these murderers sends a message to the criminals and murderers of al-Shabab Khawarij [deviants] who are always bent upon harming the public,” Information Minister Daud Aweis told VOA Somali. “The message tells them that the government and its security agencies are vigilant to go after whoever attempts to harm the public and destabilize the security.”

Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants launched a deadly attack on government forces at a military base south of Mogadishu on Saturday.

The dawn attack at Busley base, about 17 kilometers (11 miles) south of Mogadishu claimed the lives of about seven soldiers and 10 al-Shabab fighters, according to a security officer who was at the camp. The officer asked not to be identified, as he is not allowed to speak with the media.

Al-Shabab claimed it killed 57 soldiers in the attack. The militant group often gives casualty figures that are higher than those released by the government. Their claim could not be independently verified.


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