Death toll from Somalia hotel attack rises to 39

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A Somali security officer looks toward the scene of twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)
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A Somali soldier uses his mobile phone at the scene of twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)
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The scene following twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)
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The scene following twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)
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Somali security officers run from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia November 9, 2018. (Reuters)
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Somali security officers run from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia November 9, 2018. (Reuters)
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Smoke billows from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia November 9, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2018

Death toll from Somalia hotel attack rises to 39

  • Suicide attackers set off 4 bombs at a hotel near the headquarters of Somalia’s Criminal Investigations Department
  • Militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Sahafi in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU: Suicide attackers set off two car bombs at a hotel in Mogadishu on Friday, killing at least 39 people, police said.

Previous reports had indicated 29 fatalities from the attack, but police confirmed a total of 39 civilians died with 40 others injured.


The militant extremist group Al-Shabab, linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Sahafi, which is near the headquarters of Somalia’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Hotel guards and CID officers opened fire after the blasts, police added. Then, about 20 minutes later, a third explosion from a bomb placed in a three-wheeled “tuk-tuk” vehicle near the hotel hit the busy street, witnesses said.
Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition when one car bomb exploded next to a minibus, said a police official.




The scene following twin car bombs that exploded within moments of each other in the Somali capital Mogadishu on November 9, 2018. (AFP)

“Four militants who attempted to enter the hotel were shot dead by our police and the hotel guards,” police captain Mohamed Ahmed told Reuters.
“Two other militants were suicide car bombers who were blown up by their car bombs. The third car was remotely detonated. So in total 28 people died, including the six militants.”
Abdifatah Abdirashid, who took over the Sahafi from his father after he was killed in a militant attack in 2015, was among those who died in Friday’s attack, said Mohamed Abdiqani, a witness at the hotel.
“The militants who entered the hotel compound faced heavy gunfire from the hotel guards. Abdifatah Abdirashid, the hotel owner, and three of his bodyguards died,” Abdiqani said.
“Although they failed to access the hotel, the blasts outside the hotel killed many people,” the police official said.
“The street was crowded with people and cars, bodies were everywhere,” said Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper who suffered light shrapnel injuries on his right hand. “Gunfire killed several people, too.”
A Reuters photographer at the scene saw 20 bodies of civilians and burnt-out minibuses, motorbikes and cars.




Somali security officers run from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia November 9, 2018. (Reuters)

Abdiasisi Abu Musab, Al-Shabab’s spokesman for military operations, said the group had singled out the Sahafi for attack because of its association with the government the extremists want to overthrow.
“We targeted it because it acts as government base. Government officials and security forces are always in the hotel,” he told Reuters.
Somalia has been engulfed by violence and lawlessness since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in the early 1990s.

 

* With Reuters and AP.


Kabul expects US to share peace deal details

Updated 25 August 2019

Kabul expects US to share peace deal details

  • Afghan government excluded from all rounds of talks
  • Washington is keen for the deal to be signed before Sept. 1

KABUL: Afghanistan said on Saturday it expects the US to share details of a peace deal with the Taliban before it is signed, having been excluded from all rounds of talks.

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has led diplomats through at least nine rounds of talks with members of the armed group in Qatar since last summer.

A deal could pave the way for a complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and end almost two decades of fighting in the country.

But President Ashraf Ghani’s government has been left out of the talks because of objections from the Taliban, which views his regime as a puppet of the West.

The current round of discussions has been described as crucial because, according to present and former Taliban officials, both parties are expected to soon sign a deal.

“The Afghan government expects that it (agreement) will be shared before it is finalized for signing,” Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told Arab News.

He said Kabul could not say when the deal would be signed, and that troops’ departure would be condition-based and not based on a timeline set by the Taliban.

“Well, force reduction will be based on conditions, the terrorist threat is potential and we must fight it together for our common safety and in order to prevent any major terrorist attacks on the world’s capitals. 

“We must deny terrorists from holding free ground in Afghanistan and turning it into a safe haven. The presence of some forces, and continued and meaningful support to the Afghan security and defense forces, will be key to our success.”

The Taliban wants all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan within a set timetable and, in return, the group says it will not allow Afghan soil to be used against any foreign country or US interests.

Afghan and US officials have warned against a total pullout of troops because, they argue, the Taliban will try to regain power by force and the country will slide back into chaos after troops leave.

But some say a continued presence will prolong the conflict, as neighboring powers oppose the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and see it as a trigger for extremism.

The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment about media reports, which cited the group’s former and current officials as saying that a deal with Washington was imminent.

“We have an agreement on a timeframe for the withdrawal,” Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman for the Qatar talks, told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. “Discussions are now focused on its implementation mechanism. We have had general discussions today,” he added, referring to current discussions in Doha. “Tomorrow, we shall have discussions on the implementation part.”

Another Taliban spokesman said the top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, had taken part in the current talks which, according to some observers, showed the importance of the discussions and the possibility of a final deal.

Washington is keen for the deal to be signed before Sept. 1, weeks ahead of a crucial and controversial presidential poll in Afghanistan. 

Ghani, who is standing for re-election, says the polls are his priority. Some politicians believe that peace will have to come first and that the vote will have to be delayed.

Abdul Satar Saadat, who served as an adviser to Ghani, said the Taliban and US were racing against time as any delay would damage trust between the two and prompt the Taliban to fight for another five years.

“Because of this both sides are doing their utmost to sign the deal, delay the polls and begin an intra-Afghan dialogue like Oslo,” he told Arab News.