Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Somalia.
Militants stormed a major hotel in the capital of Somalia on Sunday evening, according to the authorities. The attack in Mogadishu, attributed to the Shabab, an extremist group, took place at the Afrik Hotel, which is on the road to the city’s major international airport and is a popular meeting place for politicians, lawmakers and members of the security services.
The authorities claim that the Shabab, which is an Al Qaeda ally in Africa and has wreaked havoc across East Africa, carried out the attack, which began about 5 p.m. Security forces were continuing to engage them inside the hotel Sunday night. A Somali police spokesman, Sadiq Adan Ali, said in a statement that most of the people who were at the hotel had been evacuated.
Abdulkadir Adan who is the founder of Aamin Ambulance, Mogadishu’s only free ambulance service, said that his team had removed the bodies of two people killed in the attack, and had taken another 11 who were injured from the site of the violence.
Images and video shared on social media showed smoke billowing into the blue skies. Heavy gunfire and blasts were heard in the hotel’s vicinity, according to Ismael Mukhtar Omar, the spokesman of Somalia’s ministry of information. Mohamed Nur Galal, a former top military general, was killes in the attack, Omar confirmed in a post on Twitter. Among those rescued were senior federal and regional government officials along with security officers, he added.
The attack came weeks before a crucial parliamentary and presidential election that has been plagued by disputes over how to properly conduct the voting, creating an impasse that risks delaying the vote and pushing the government past its constitutional term limit. The disagreements, embroiling the federal and regional governments and opposition parties, have alarmed the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and African states, which have called on the various parties “to resolve the remaining electoral implementation issues in order for credible and inclusive elections to proceed.”
The elections were scheduled for February 8, but that timeline looks unattainable now. Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has called on regional leaders to meet starting Monday to deal with the electoral crisis.
Somalia is facing a host of other crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, swarms of desert locusts that are destroying crops, and the displacement of tens of thousands of people by seasonal floods late last year.
The Shabab militant group also continues to remain a threat, targeting civilians, government officials and peacekeeping forces besides carrying out attacks on restaurants, hotels and other establishments. The Al-Qaeda linked group has financial muscle, too, as is collects millions of dollars in tariffs and payoffs to finances its operations, according to a United Nations Security Council report from last year. The group has been moving this money through Somalia’s banking system and is investing in local businesses and real estate.