Al-Shabab fighters have attacked a hotel in
Mogadishu, the Somali capital, killing at least 35 people, a day after
declaring a massive war.
Members of al-Shabab, disguised as government workers, launched the
attack on Tuesday at the Muna Hotel, which is known to host many Somali
government officials and politicians, Al Jazeera's reporter in the
Abdirahman Yariisow, Somalia's information
minister, who was at the hotel, told Al Jazeera that six Somali members
of parliament and five members of security were among those killed.
"It happened when two suicide bombers detonated themselves," he said.
"The security was there, but for some reason,
they managed their way in and started shooting. No one was expecting
this kind of atrocity.
"This shows how al-Shabab is brutal; they never respected our call [to stop the fighting] for the holy month of Ramadan."
The flare-up came after al-Shabab fighters declared a "massive,
final" war against what they called "invaders" and attacked army
barracks in several districts of Mogadishu on Monday.
Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage, al-Shabab's spokesman, had said on Monday
that fighters were starting a new war against "invaders", an apparent
reference to the 6,000 African Union troops deployed in the country to
support government forces.
At least 40 people were reportedly killed and more than 100 injured in the violence that followed, medics and witnesses said.
There was an overnight lull before the fighting resumed on Tuesday morning.
The fighting came days after hundreds of Ugandan troops began
arriving in the Somali capital to strengthen the current AU peacekeeping
"As long as these [AU] forces are in Mogadishu, I think it will be
unlikely for al-Shabab to take over [the city]. But they can inflict
huge damage," Dr. Afyare Abdi Elmi, a professor of International Affairs
at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera.
Ugandan reinforcements arrive
Uganda said last month that it was willing to send 1,200 troops to
Somalia, in addition to the 6,000 strong AMISOM mission sent by African
"The additional troops began arriving last Friday, they were
airlifted to different areas and of course they will continue to
arrive," Wafula Wamunyinyi, the AU deputy special representative for
Somalia, said on Monday.
Al-Shabab, which has been fighting Somalia's UN-backed government
since the start of 2007, recently claimed responsibility for a twin
bombing attack in Uganda, which killed more than 70 people who were
watching the World Cup.
The group has said that it will continue to undertake strikes in
Uganda and Burundi, in east-central Africa, as long as those
countries provide troops for the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Somalia has not had an effective central government for nearly 20
years and al-Shabab controls significant portions of the country.
The US and other countries say al-Shabab is linked to al-Qaeda and consider the group a terrorist organisation.
More than 21,000 Somalis have been killed in fighting since the start
of the uprising, 1.5 million have been uprooted from their homes and
nearly half a million are sheltering in other countries in the region.
"Civil wars end either through military victory or through a negotiated settlement," Dr. Abdi Elmi said.
"In Somalia, at least for the short term, neither is likely to happen
... the goals of the opposing forces cannot be reconciled now," he
"In the long run, building effective Somali security forces and functioning state is the answer."