Gun battle rages between Shabaab and Somali troops

Mar 04, 2019, 00:42
Gun battle rages between Shabaab and Somali troops

He said 29 people, mostly civilians, had died in the attack and its aftermath, and 80 had been wounded.

"Al-Shabaab like attacking Maka al-Mukarama because it is the heart of Somalia", political analyst Hassan Haile told the BBC. I have just seen them in hospital, they are in critical condition.

VOA's reporter on the scene says government security forces cordoned off the entire area and began collecting dead bodies, barring journalists from getting close to the building that was under siege.

The extremists then holed up inside buildings, exchanging gunfire with security forces who worked well into Friday to free trapped civilians.

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A suicide auto bombing targeting a hotel in Mogadishu by the Islamist group Al Shabaab on Thursday killed at least 10 people and destroyed buildings in the Somali capital's busiest street, according to police.

"It was very hard for the security forces to enter the building last night because it is dark and electricity was cut by the blast".

The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked group.

The overnight attack began with a pair of vehicle bombs exploding in a popular area of Mogadishu where Somalis were relaxing at restaurants and hotels Thursday evening. Dozens of cars caught fire along Maka Almukarramah Road.

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Al Shabaab's military spokesman said the group was still in control of the Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama, which is used by government officials and located on a street lined with hotels, shops and restaurants.

"The death toll may rise and rise".

Many victims of Thursday's attack suffered horrific injuries and hospitals were said to be struggling to cope with causalities.

Al Shabaab has also carried out attacks in neighbouring countries contributing to the African Union peacekeeper force inside Somalia, including one on a hotel and office complex in Kenya in January that killed 21 people. As usual, the statement identified everyone slain as "al-Shabaab fighters" but did not elaborate on who they were.

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Hamza who is a son-in-law to one of the grand planners of the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in United States urged followers to strike the America and Western allies in retaliation against his father's killing eight years ago. The military command in Africa reported 23 as of Tuesday, including one in central Somalia that killed 20 militants and another the day before that killed 35.

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