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Death toll from attack on Mogadishu hotel rises to 16

Medical staff carry a wounded woman on a stretcher roll at Madina hospital in Mogadishu on August 16, 2020, following a gun and bomb attack by al-Shabab militants on an upscale beachfront hotel in Somalia's capital. (Photo by AFP)

At least 16 people have been killed when extremist insurgents attacked a seaside hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, a government spokesman says, with a witness describing the scene inside the compound as "like hell."

Al-Shabab militants launched a similar assault on a Somali military base on Monday in which at least five soldiers died.

The toll from the hotel attack included 11 victims and five assailants, Ismail Mukhtar Omar said in a tweet late on Sunday, adding, "Security forces lost one."

Militants detonated a car bomb at the high-end Elite Hotel in Lido beach before opening fire with assault rifles.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, who was present during the attack, told Reuters security at the hotel, which is owned by a government politician, was considered extremely tight, with two checkpoints inside the compound and two outside.

"No one can enter that area without a government ID card. It is impossible for car bombs or even civilian cars just to go in there," Moalimuu said.

At the moment the car bomb exploded, he said, "there was a blanket of flame hovering over us ... The hotel was like hell. Clouds of smoke, terrible exchange of gunfire, flames."

Moalimuu was able to jump over a wall and escape on to the beach, he said, but the friend he was dining with was killed.

Footage of the security response shared with Reuters by a security source shows Somali soldiers helping guests climb down ropes strung from hotel windows.

The hotel is owned by Abdullahi Mohamed Nor, a lawmaker and former finance minister, and is popular with government officials and members of the Somali diaspora.

This photo taken on August 18, 2019 shows a view of Mogadishu's Lido Beach where local residents come to spend time at the beach.  (Photo by AFP)

On Monday, five soldiers were killed after militants from the group launched a car bomb and gun assault on a Somali military base in the Goofgaduud area, about 30 kilometers from the town of Baidoa in Somalia's southwest.

Three soldiers were killed when a car bomber rammed the gate to the base, Major Mohamed Aden, a military officer in Baidoa told Reuters.

Soldiers abandoned the base and al-Shabab militants entered it, planting a booby-trap bomb on one of the dead men which killed two more soldiers when it exploded, he said.

Al-Shabab's military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters the attackers had killed eight soldiers, including the base commander.

Somalia has been embroiled in militancy since the early 1990s, when former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled.

(Source: Reuters)

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