Blast at hotel in Somali capital Mogadishu

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Witnesses reported an explosion followed by gunfire at the Elite Hotel in Lido Beach

Paramedics and civilians carry an injured person on a stretcher at Madina hospital after a blast at the Elite Hotel in Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Smoke rises from an explosion at the Hotel Elite at Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia on August 16, 2020. Twitter / @Somaliweyn_

The site of near explosion at the Elite Hotel in the Somali capital.

The beachfront hotel is a popular spot in the Somali capital.

A promotional photo of the hotel taken from its website.

The aftermath of the blast outside the the Elite Hotel in Mogadishu, which witnesses said was followed by the sound of gunfire.

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The National

Aug 16, 2020

August 16, 2020

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Gunmen stormed an upscale beachfront hotel in Somalia's capital on Sunday after a car bomb blast outside, in an attack reminiscent of others carried out by Al Shabab militants, a police officer and witnesses said.

The government did not immediately provide information on casualties, although Aamin Ambulance, a Mogadishu-based private service, reported that 28 people were wounded.

"There was a car bomb blast targeting Elite Hotel at Lido beach. There is heavy gunfire in the building," said Adan Ibrahim, a police officer in the area, told AFP.

Witnesses confirmed that the attack began with a heavy explosion and reported that people were running from the area as gunfire could be heard from the hotel, which is frequented by government officials.

"The blast was very heavy and I could see smoke in the area. There is chaos and people are fleeing from nearby buildings," said witness Ali Sayid Adan.

“The exchange of gunfire is terrible and stray bullets reached us near the beach,” Mohamed Nur, a government worker, told Reuters.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of then-president Siad Barre's military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabab militant group which once controlled large parts of the country and Mogadishu.

Since 2008, Al Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally recognised central government and establish its rule based on its own interpretation of Islamic law.

The militants were driven out of the capital in 2011, but continue to wage war against the government, carrying out regular attacks.

Last week four Shabab fighters held in Mogadishu's central prison were killed in a shootout with security forces after they somehow managed to get their hands on weapons.

Updated: August 16, 2020 08:14 PM

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