The Longest Hotel Siege Ever Witnessed In Mogadishu, Somalia

Somalia The Longest Hotel Siege Ever Witnessed In Mogadishu, Somalia
AUG 24, 2022 LISTEN

MOGADISHU; SOMALIA. The Islamist insurgents Alshabab which was established in 2006 ever since the group has been gaining momentum and seizing large swathes of territory in Southern and central Somalia and launched numerous offensives in Somalia and beyond; their leverage and influence was crystal clear and metastasized every region in Somalia and deeply infiltrated the security apparatus and they also involve the chain of command in the Military forces. Alshabab gained popularity and prominence in the following years.

Alshabab launched its first hotel attack in 2010 by using explosions to target the main entrances and soon followed by other consecutive blasts usually carried out by suicide bombers wearing suicide vests and soon penetrated into the hotel and trigger random and shooting spree, such hotel onslaughts became pervasive and rampant.

It was Friday evening and I was socializing my colleagues in A Safari hotel and planning to venture out but one of my colleague received a phone call from Abdinasir who recently returned from London Ontario in Canada. Abdinasir who spent six years in the World's largest refugees camp in Kakuma and eventually received a resettlement program after a long process sponsored by the Canadian government and facilitated by UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) he also spent 21 years in Canada and he was on his way to Safari hotel to meet with us So we paused for a while and soon we ordered beverages and snacks,

then Abdinasir turned up and we all stood up, saluted and hugged him impassionately then we sat and dining together; he was narrating us how the sound of hammer replaced the sound of gunfire in Mogadishu due to booming infrastructure development and real estate house as well as his academic and professional background and his life experience in Canada and Somali-Canadian politicians including Ahmed Hussein who became an MP, Minister of immigration, Refugees and citizenship and current Canadian Minister of Family affairs, inclusion and diversity and Somali asylumseekers.

Soon we heard a huge and deafening sound of explosion in close proximity we were absolutely shocked, convulsed and scared and thought the hotel we are came under attack but later we realized that the attack was another hotel called Hayat assailants attacked a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday, setting off explosions and firing guns.

As a professional and qualified journalist soon I worn my bullet-proof vest and helmet and grabbed the microphone and informed my videographer to perform my duties and it took me almost 15-hours covering the siege and went to the hotel but it was entirely cordoned off and heavy security forces have been deployed; and media was barred to broadcast live for the hotel attack fortunately I caught up with two eyewitnesses and told me that they heard two or three blasts close to the Hayat hotel at KM4 Junction On Friday evening. Initial reports said the assailants assaulted the hotel with suicide car bombs before gunmen went inside.

A police officer told the ModernGhana that one car bomb hit near the hotel and another struck the hotels gate I have seen a heavy gunbattle going on inside the hotel for a time, with Security forces trying to repulse the attackers Somalia police spokesman Abdifatah Aden Hassan said the gunmen were "being engaged by the police forces" " we don't the details so far but there are casualties and security forces are now engaging by with the enemy who are holed up inside the building" security officer Abdikadir Hassan told ModernGhana; Ambulance services also verified me that it had taken nine wounded people to the local hospitals

Alshabab group claimed the full responsibility for the blasts, a statement on the group's website said " Our assailants attacked and seized the full control of the hotel and are fighting now inside, we are targeting government officials who are in the hotel" The group which has been waging an insurgency in Somalia for about 15 years, often targets cafes and hotels like Hayat in Mogadishu that are patronized by political and security officials.

As deadly Somali hotel siege continues for second night. Mogadishu's dwellers have expressed grave trepidation and consternation about their beloved relatives who were trapped inside of the hotel as security forces continue an operation aimed at ending a hotel siege in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital where they have been battling with Alshabab Militants for the past 24 hours after they detonated several explosive devices, security officials said.

The death toll from Friday's assaults on the Hayat hotel, an upscale hotel frequented by government officials, clan elders and people from the diaspora community, has risen to at least 20 with 40 others injured, according to medical sources. A senior police official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media told ModernGhana that a number of heavily armed Militants were still fighting with the government soldiers inside the hotel premises on Saturday night. The Militants have been firing from parts of the hotel for the last 24 hours, with our troops engaging in an operation to flush them out of the hotel to end the brutal siege. The official said.

Permanent elders were verified to be among the dead, the fatalities also include four assailants, in addition to the civilian victims. He said the number of Militants still fighting inside of the hotel is unknown.

According to Mogadishu's Ambulances service who remain on standby whenever blasts occur in Mogadishu said at least 13 dead bodies were retrieved after being pulled from the rubble in the collapsed part of the hotel buildings. Police also used a sniffer dogs to search through the rubble for any survivors still Trapped under the rubble.

Dr. Abdikadir Abdirahman Aden, the founder of Aamin Ambulance services in Mogadishu told ModernGhana that its medical team transported wounded people to hospitals for treatment. Businessmen and local traditional elders were among those killed and injured in the attack.

According to the relatives the hotel's co-owner Abdirahman Hassan Iman is among those killed. Gunfire and explosions could still be heard on Saturday night as security forces encircled the building and pounded heavily with artillery and machine guns mounted on the backs of vehicles to attack Alshabab. The hotel was almost razed to the ground

The special security operations unit known as Alpha Group and trained by the US penetrated the ground floor as insurgent snipers held positions upstairs, according to eyewitness the attack began Friday evening just after sunset prayers when a car bomb detonated at the gate to the hotel. At least two other explosions followed and gunmen posing as police officers stormed the hotel. There is no official statement from the government regarding the attack.

In a separate attack in Mogadishu overnight involving rounds of mortar shells, five civilians from the same family including couples got married recently were killed and 10 others were seriously injured when rounds of Mortar shells landed on their residences at midnight near Mogadishu Airport, so far no one has claimed the responsibility for the mortar attacks but Somali security officials said Alshabab had carried out similar mortar attacks many times in the city.


During the 30 hours of the siege Somali troops eventually succeeded in rescuing many civilians who were stranded inside the hotel rooms; survivors who were being held hostages were evacuated from the hotel spoke to ModernGhana media and recounted harrowing stories and gruesome ordeal they gone through some were hiding under tables, toilets, while others jumping from windows as armed assailants continued firing randomly and indiscriminately against those in the hotel and its surroundings.

" it was a beautiful Friday, which is like the weekend for Somalia, the beautiful chatting and jubilant faces of the hotel guests immediately turned into conflict zone where explosions, gunfights, gunfires, blood and human flesh scattered throughout the scene it was shocking and frightening sense. I ran into a room next to the hotel reception area along with dozens of people, we spent at least 40 minutes of desperation there before we got a chance to break windows and run" uttered by one of the survivors, Abdinasir Mohamed Ghedi.

Ghedi also elaborated that he could see people jumping from high windows at the hotel amid huge explosions that sent plumes of cloud smoke into the air " the hotel area was covered with black smoke and flying flames. I could see people jumping from windows onto the buildings next to the hotel, among them senior citizens and overweight people" Said Ghedi " Some who were already injured from the explosions must have fractured their legs or even perished after they jumped "

Another Survivor, Abdirahman Ahmed, was among nine other survivors: he said he and others spent about six hours inside the barber shop next to the hotel before they were rescued by government soldiers in the early morning hours." It was like being holed up into a dangerous corner waiting for death to come imminent.

We never thought we could survive because we could hear Alshabab yelling God is great fire and kill whoever you see" Ahmed said " When we were rescued, I could see a headless body apparently decapitated by an explosion and two other corpses lying in the street.

Friday's incursion is the first deadly and brutal onslaught by Alshabab on an upscale target in Mogadishu Since Somalia's new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud assumed office in May. The US, Britain, EU, Turkey and China jointly denounced the attack with their strongest terms in a brief statement they jointly issued and vowed to collaborate the federal government as long as it battles with the insurgents who vowed to topple the Western backed government of Somalia.

In a Televised speech Somalia's Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre pledged accountability after the latest Alshabab attack, on popular Mogadishu hotel, killed 21 people and injured 117 others, Hamza Abdi Barre said the government takes the full responsibility of what happened in Friday's attack on the Hayat hotel.

After visiting hospitals treating the injured victims, Barre said those who failed to" perform their duties, anyone who fell short and anyone who infringed will be held accountable " he added " A recurrence of what has occurred is not acceptable " the comments aired on late Sunday on state Television. He did not single out any person or government branch for specific Blame.

Mukhtar Robow, the former spokesman and deputy leader and one of the co-founders of Alshabab who defected from Alshabab in 2017 and was detained by Somalia's security forces in late 2018 for attempting to run South-west State presidency, he was barred to run for the election by the previous administration and was incarcerated and remanded in custody for three years, the Prime Minister released him from the custody and appointed him a cabinet post, now he is the country's religious and endowment minister. He vehemently denounced and excoriated the attack as well as in a Televised speech along with top religious clerics.

While some people were horrified by the move taken by the PM to include Robow in his cabinet, Many Somalis have greeted and applauded with enthusiasm for the appointment of Robow a man who used to be on the US list of the most-wanted terrorist with $5M bounty on his head.

" this is not right and you know it consciously " Robow said in remarks aimed at Alshabab " Give up and repent it seriously as I did the only viable and available option" Robow alao known as A business Mansur called for unity against the group. Government troops ended Alshabab's siege on the hotel after a 30-hours operation.

Alshabab has been carrying out raids on hotels, government ministries and key installations since 2010 while the attack is not unique, observers believe the group was responding to the recent rhetoric from New Somali president Hassan sheikh Mohamud, who said he has came up with a new strategy to battle the group at three approaches Militarily, economically and ideologically to weaken and undermine before opening the channels of communication and negotiation.

The government and its allies will wage military offensives to root out the remnants of the extremists with three fronts which should be military, ideological and economic war against the group, the president affirmed. Alshabab is attempting to counter the government's declaration said Samira Gaid, executive director of the Hiraal Institute a Mogadishu based security Think-tank and she was also the national security advisor to the former prime Minister Hassan Khaire.

She also said it was a clear message to the new administration and the public as well that they can launch an attacks at will and they cannot be simply deracinated she said. Alshabab's spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Mus"ab said the group was responding to the president's remarks.


A senior Somali government security official who requested anonymity because he does not have authorization to speak to the media told ModernGhana through the phone that security branches believe Alshabab surveilled the hotel before the attack.

He said security officials believed the assailant watched video of the entrances and the hotel's rooms. The official said eight Militants were directly involved in the onslaughts three of them were suicide bombers. The first one blew himself up at the gate at about 7:00 pm local time on Friday followed by car bomb explosion by another suicide bomber.

A third bomber detonated his suicide vest after security forces led by Muhiyaddin Warbac the commander of Mogadishu branch of the national intelligence and security agency (NISA) reached the hotel.

" A fourth bomber disguised and impersonated a guest who trapped the hotel and need to be rescued and he detonated himself as the security forces came around him and injured nine" The official said one othe nine was Warbac who is now recovering. Officials said they are investigating whether other people inside the hotel aided and abetted Alshabab or complicity of the attack. Security officials did not rule out the possibility that some individuals who assisted in the attack hid among those rescued and escaped.

The hotel owner Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, debunked that any of the hotel's guests were involved, and repudiated a social media rumours that some of the assailants had come to the hotel impersonating honey vendors. " when a person comes to the hotel we record their passport, documents and the information of the person that brought them" Nur told modern media ' we do not accommodate someone without documents " I have seen people suggesting that seller's story. That is absurd, ludicrous and baseless he added let the present empirical evidences.


Nur said it took the security forces nearly an hour to arrive the hotel and to engae the assailants. Intelligence and communication failures, lack of coordination, no security alerts prior to the brutal attack, command and control conflict and which unit should be in charge of the operation. Police initially responded and then stopped back and Intelligence took over the operator then it handed over to the police such chaotic chain of command has plunged the entire operation into total disarray.

Survivors confirmed to ModernGhana that the third suicide explosion inside the hotel further delayed and hampered the response from the security forces. " The rescue forces came late" said Mohamed Hassan Haad, a traditional elder who said he was rescued after more than four hours trapped and hiding in an alleyways. He said government troops entered from the main gate and fired heavy weapons but turned back after Militants hurled grenades from the upper floors and after one of the assailants blew himself up.

" That paused the operation for a while, four plus hours later they reached where I was hiding " he said security officials also said the main obstacle they face came when attackers vandalized the hotel's staircase officials believe the Militants blew up the stairs to prevent the security forces from climbing to the floors. The decimation of the staircase jeopardized and hampered the entire operation and prevented the security forces from directly engaging a full combat with the group; the troops were coerced to use cranes to move their personnel to the top floor.

The long held captives were rescued after intense firefight but security officials told ModernGhana that lack of central command among the security forces and lack of coordination among different security apparatus also impeded the operation and imperiled the security forces and induced the siege to last for long time

they say the regular Mogadishu police and special police unit known as Haramcad (Cheetah) initially shouldered the responsibility for the operation after two hours the operation was taken over by Gaashaan (Shield) Counter-terrorism unit that works under NISA and sponsored by the United state the Haramcad completed the operation.

The responsibility of the security mainly lies on the police and intelligence agencies to protect their fellow citizen's security and safety in case of potential threats and foiled possible attacks.

Alshabab has developed a parallel government and controls large swathes of territory it imposes hefty taxes on people inside and outside areas it controls. Even Mogadishu's residents prefer to use its justice system, which they consider more efficient and less corrupt than the official government courts.

On the other hand Somalia's president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Tuesday pledged "an all-out war" to stamp out Alshabab in his first statement to the nation; since Alshabab staged a deadly 30-hours hotel siege in Mogadishu.

" I know that the Somali people are fed up with the endless condolences and mourning, I know that you lose respectable and beloved people in every onslaught carried out by the terrorists " Mohamed Said So I called upon you to be prepared for an all-out war against the ruthless people who are hostile to our peace he said in a statement released by the presidency.

" We are determined to weaken the terrorists who decimate our people till all areas they dominate are liberated, this is the priority for our government and the preparation and implementation of that plan is ongoing he said without elaborating.

The declaration of war came after Mohamud convened and chaired national emergency security committee dubbed the security sector reform and attended by prime Minister, cabinet members and the country's top security commanders. Never surrender in a Televised speech later in the evening, Mohamud told citizens to have no doubt that Somalia will defeat the enemy that is oppressing its country's people and religion.

Our government and the people will never surrender until they have we have a Somalia that is free from terrorists and extremists Alshabab which the president equated them as a deadly and venomous snake in your clothes, there is no solution other than to kill it before it kills you he said in his Televised address.

Mohamed Hussein Mentalist
Mohamed Hussein Mentalist

East Africa correspondent of ModernGhana. Page: MohamedHusseinMentalist