On the seafront of Mogadishu, the Pearl Beach hotel suffered two assaults in one evening. The first, claimed by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab Islamist fighters, began shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, when seven assailants took control of the hotel. The second came from the police, came to dislodge the terrorists, and ended around two o’clock in the morning, after exchanges of heavy fire.
“Six civilians died in the attack (…) and ten others were injured. Three brave members of the security forces also perished,” the police said in a statement, adding that 84 people who were in the Pearl Beach hotel were rescued and unharmed. The seven assailants were all killed.
“We thought that security had been improving in the city in recent weeks”
Friday evening, witnesses had reported heavy shooting near the Somali establishment. Several ambulances were parked nearby. “I was near the Pearl Beach restaurant when a loud explosion sounded in front of the building,” said a witness, Abdirahim Ali. “I managed to escape, but then there was heavy gunfire and the security forces came in force.” Yaasin Nur, who was nearby, said the hotel’s restaurant “was full of people because it had recently been renovated”.
“The attack in a popular area of Mogadishu is a bit of a shock, given that security was thought to have been improving in the city in recent weeks,” security analyst Omar Mahmood told AFP. East Africa to the International Crisis Group (ICG). “It seems that the Shebab are undertaking a series of attacks to slow down a possible offensive by the government and its allies”. Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency against the internationally-backed federal government for more than 15 years and has often targeted hotels, which usually host senior Somali and foreign officials.