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Somali police say gunmen dead after car explosion, gunfire leave nine dead in Kismayo

The file photo shows the area surrounding a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, where a terrorist attack claimed the lives of over 20 people, on August 21, 2022. (By AFP)

The Somali police say an attack by militants on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo is over and all four gunmen have been killed.

According to the regional security minister, at least nine people were killed and 47 wounded in the Sunday attack on a hotel in Kismayo, southern Somalia.

The attack began at 12:45 pm (0945 GMT) when a booby-trapped car rammed the entrance of Hotel Tawakal. It ended around 7:00 pm after the attackers were killed by security forces.

Among the casualties were students leaving a nearby school, Jubaland security minister, Yusuf Hussein Osman, told reporters. All four attackers, including the suicide bomber, were killed, he added.

"The first one detonated himself and the (remaining) three were killed by the security forces," he said, confirming an early police statement.

In a post on its Twitter account, the state-run Somali National Television said security forces were dealing with a “terrorist incident” at the hotel.

The al-Shabab Takfiri militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operation spokesperson, said the attack was intended to strike Jubbaland region’s administrators.

Tawakal Hotel is popular as a meeting place for government officials. Kismayo is located about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab is believed to have a strong presence in the areas surrounding Kismayo, the largest city and commercial capital of Jubaland State.

In 2019, a similar attack at another hotel in Kismayu killed at least 26 people.

An African Union force pushed al-Shabab militants out of the capital in 2011. The group, however, still controls swathes of the countryside and takes random spots across the country under sporadic attacks from time to time.

Back in May, at least three civilians were killed and a number of others wounded after the group raided a military camp belonging to an African Union mission in central Somalia.

In August 2020, the group said it was behind an attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, in which at least 16 people were killed.

Also in October 2017, in the most fatal attack carried out by the terrorist group, well over 500 people were killed when a truck packed with explosives was detonated in Mogadishu.

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