July 14 (UPI) — Somali security forces ended a hotel siege by Islamist extremists Saturday that killed 26 people and injured 56.
The attack at Asasey hotel in the southern port city of Kismayo, Somalia, began Friday night when a car bomb exploded in a suicide blast at the heavily fortified hotel gate, allowing an assault team of four attackers to enter the premises in a siege lasting 12 hours, as they fought Jubaland’s security forces, Colonel Salah Osman, a police officer, told CNN.
The car bomber died as the explosives detonated, and the four attackers died while fighting in the hotel, Osman said.
Among the dead were three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, one Briton, two Americans and a Canadian, said Ahmed Madobe Islam, Jubaland state president.
He added that 56 people, including two Chinese, were injured.
A prominent Canadian-Somali journalist, Hodan Nalayeh, and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, were also among those who died in the hospital after being critically wounded in the attack, police captain Mahad Abdia told CNN.
The Mogadishu-based radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed her death and that she was pregnant at the time.
Nalayeh, age 43, was a mother and Somali native, who had lived in Canada for many years and traveled to Somalia when the attack happened.
“Hodan established the first diaspora English online TV covering life of Somalis in diaspora and in Somalia,” Radio Dalsan tweeted, referring to her establishment of Integration TV.
She was known for promoting Somali culture among Canadians and commitment to positive change.
“Though her work as a journalist, she highlighted the community’s positive stories and contributions in Canada,” Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, told CBC news. “We mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the Kismayo attack.”
The Asasey hotel, which four al-Shabaab militants attacked, is popular with politicians, foreigners and lawmakers.
Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, tends to launch campaigns of multiple strikes while it is under pressure. A gun battle Monday killed five people, including three civilians, in the capital, Mogadishu, after extremists opened fire on a checkpoint.
Regional intelligence officials and analysts say that a spate of recent public executions is part of a broader effort to demonstrate strength despite casualties sustained in air strikes.