Armed group al-Shabab has attacked a hotel in the capital Somali capital Mogadishu the state news agency said, as security forces on the scene try to “neutralise” the fighters
The attack took place on Friday evening at the popular upmarket Pearl Restaurant, on the capital’s Lido Beach, and has wounded at least seven people, the capital’s ambulance service said.
“Security forces are currently conducting an operation to neutralise al-Shabab militants who attacked civilians at a hotel on Lido beach in Mogadishu,” Somali National News Agency posted on Twitter.
“Many civilians have been rescued from the scene and the operation is ongoing.”
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hussein Mohamed, a waiter at another restaurant nearby, told the Reuters news agency he heard a blast followed by gunfire when the attack started.
“The whole area is cordoned by forces,” he told Reuters.
Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Aamin Ambulance Services, said they had so far received seven people who had been wounded at the hotel.
“We are still there for service,” he said.
“The Mujahideen managed to enter the Pearl beach and are still fully in control,” the group said in a statement.
Lido Beach is one of Mogadishu’s most popular areas and is busy on Friday nights as Somalis enjoy the weekend by visiting local coffee shops and ice cream parlours.
The attacks came only days after al-Shabab fighters killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers in an attack on an African Union base in the southern town of Bulo Marer last month.
Al-Shabab has been driven out of Somalia’s main towns and cities but has retained power in large swaths of rural areas, and has continued to carry out attacks against security and civilian targets, including in the capital.
Hotels have often been targeted in the past as they tend to host high-ranking Somali and foreign officials.
The rebels launched a large-scale attack against a hotel at Lido Beach in 2020, killing 10 civilians and a police officer.
The security forces took four hours to regain control of the site.
The latest attack highlighted the security problems in the Horn of Africa country as it struggles to emerge from decades of conflict.
Last year, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud launched an “all-out war” against al-Shabab, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the group he described as “bedbugs”.
His remarks came after 21 people were killed and 117 others were wounded in an al-Shabab siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August 2022 that lasted 30 hours.