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Somalia says 12 Al Shebab militants killed in hotel raids

By AFP - Jul 12,2015 - Last updated at Jul 12,2015

People stand near debris at the scene of an explosion at the gate of Siyad Hotel after Friday night's attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Saturday (Reuters photo)

MOGADISHU — Somalia's government said Saturday that 12 Al Shabab militants were killed in Friday evening's raids on two heavily fortified Mogadishu hotels.

Internal Security Minister Abdirasak Omar Mohamed told reporters that "it was only them [the attackers] who died" in the coordinated suicide strikes.

"The violent elements attacked the Weheliye and Siyaad hotels in order to disrupt people from breaking their fast in peace. Seven attackers were involved in the hotel Weheliye attack while five attackers were involved in the Siyaad hotel, and all of them were killed," he said.

However a statement from the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said the raids "resulted in the death and injuries of civilians, members of the security forces, AMISOM [African Union] troops and government officials".

Security sources said late Friday at least five people died, and witnesses said at least a dozen people were wounded. The evening also saw mortar rounds fired at Mogadishu's former main football stadium, now a key base for African Union troops.

The two hotels are both fortified and heavily guarded, and are popular with lawmakers from the nearby parliament, as well as government workers and businessmen.

Al Shabab insurgents have carried out repeated attacks in the area, and messages posted on websites close to the Al Qaeda-linked group said the Islamists claimed responsiblity for the hotel raids.

The Islamist militants have stepped up their attacks during holy fasting month of Ramadan, and the Friday raids came as people settled down to break their daylight fast.

 

Al Shabab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's internationally backed government which is propped up and protected by a 22,000-strong African Union force, AMISOM.

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