Somalia: Somali Security Forces End Al-Shabab Hotel Siege

An al-Qaida-linked extremist attack on a hotel in the Somali port city of Kismayo has killed at least 18 people, including two journalists. The hotel is often frequented by lawmakers and government officials.

Somali security forces said Saturday they had ended an overnight terrorist attack on a hotel in the southern city of Kismayo.

The attack by al-Shabab left at least 18 people dead and several injured.

The Friday night attack started with a suicide car bomb blast, followed by gunmen storming into the Asasey Hotel.

"The operation is over," police office Major Mohamed Abdi told the Reuters news agency.

"So far we know 13 people died. Many have been rescued. The four attackers were shot dead," Abdi said earlier on Saturday.

Some reports put the death toll at 26, including two journalists and local election candidates. "These are the prominent people. The death toll is sure to rise," local elder Ahmed Abdulle told Reuters.

A journalist group confirmed the deaths of two journalists: Somali-Canadian Hodan Naleyah and Mohamed Sahal Omar, a local TV reporter.

Series of attacks

Last month, at least eight people were killed when a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in the capital, Mogadishu. Elsewhere in Mogadishu, security services at a checkpoint managed to spot another car bomb and open fire at it, killing a man in the car, which then exploded.

Another blast targeted a vehicle transporting police officers in Kenya, near the Somalian border. The al-Shabab terrorist group claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

Al-Shabab has been fighting to topple the government and install Sharia law for over a decade. The group was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 but continues to wage a guerilla war in rural parts of the country.

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