Friday, February 20, 2015

Bombing in Somalia Capital Kills at Least 10 People, and the Shabab Claims Responsibility
New York Times
FEB. 20, 2015

MOGADISHU, Somalia — About 10 people were killed Friday and a dozen more wounded, including several government officials and lawmakers, when two explosions ripped through the entrance of a hotel in the Somali capital, officials said. The Shabab, an Islamist rebel group, claimed responsibility.

A car loaded with explosives was detonated at the Central Hotel, and a suicide bomber attacked a group of officials who had gathered there for Friday Prayer.

Witnesses described bodies lying in pools of blood and the burning wreckage of cars inside the hotel. There was no independent confirmation of the number of casualties, but a Somali security officer, Maj. Nur Mohamed, told Reuters that at least 10 people had been killed and that the death toll might rise.

The minister of information, Mohamed Abdi Hayir Mareye, told the state-run Radio Mogadishu that several government officials and a lawmaker had been killed in the attack, including the deputy governor of the Banadir region, which includes the capital, Mogadishu.

“A car loaded with explosives parked outside a mosque exploded, and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives afterwards,” Mr. Mareye said.

The deputy prime minister, Mohamed Omar Arte, and other officials were wounded in the attack and were being treated at a nearby hospital, an official told the Voice of America Somali service.

The Shabab said it had targeted the government ministers and lawmakers who had gathered at the hotel for Friday Prayer ahead of a national holiday. Shabab militants have carried out several attacks against the Somali government officials recently. On Monday, at least three officials working for the Somali civil aviation authority were shot to death in Mogadishu.

Somalia President vows to ‘eliminate terrorists’ after deadly attack

FEBRUARY 20, 2015

Somalia President vows to ‘eliminate terrorists’ after deadly attackSomalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud has vowed to fight ‘’terrorists until completely eliminated’’, after a deadly attack on a Mogadishu hotel claiming the lives of more than 12 people.

The President condemned the attack which was carried out by the extremist group al-Shabaab.

In a Press statement, Mr Mohamoud said that the attack will not have an influence on the government’s plans and duties. He called for the Somali people to support the government on its campaign against the ‘’terrorists’’.

‘’ We will continue fighting terrorism until we completely eliminate it. I am sure this attack proves the hypocrisy of the terrorist group who claim to be acting in the name of religion, while carrying out acts that are completely un-Islamic.

‘’Our religion stands for peace. There is no single verse in our Qu’ran that allows killing innocent people, such as happened today. National security forces, in collaboration with AMISOM and the people will never stop until stability, law and order are fully restored to Somalia,’’ he said.

The attack happened while government officials were getting ready to attend the Friday prayers. A minister, three members of the Parliament, Politicians and Soldiers died, while more than 20 people including the Deputy Prime Minister were left injured.

Similarly, the International community and the entire Somali community have condemned the brutal attack.

UN special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said despite the attack, the International community will continue its support towards the Somali people.

“We remain resolute in our support for the Somali people. Despite such inhuman atrocities, Somalis are successfully rebuilding their government institutions and security forces after more than two decades of state failure and conflict. The United Nations in Somalia will continue to work to help Somalis realise their hopes and aspirations for a peaceful and stable future.”

The latest deadly attacks comes while the security officials launched massive operations in the capital following a week of assassinations on government officials.

Attacks Leave Dozens Dead in Libya, Somalia

Feb. 20, 2015 8:00am
Liz Klimas

TRIPOLI, Libya (TheBlaze/AP) — A car bomb attack near a gas station in Libya and hotel in Somalia Friday killed dozens of people and left others injured in the two African countries.

An army spokesman said at least 30 were killed in Qubba, Libya, a town under control of the country’s internationally recognized government. However, there were conflicting reports about the blast in the city located about 19 miles from Darna, a stronghold of Libya’s branch of the Islamic State group, which has been gaining a foothold in this North African nation, far from the battlefield of Iraq and Syria.

According to army spokesman Mohammed Hegazi, the car bomb exploded next to a gas station in the town as motorists lined up to fill their tanks. The explosion also wounded scores of people, Hegazi told The Associated Press. He added that the gas station is close to the town’s security headquarters.

But a security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said that the gas station blast was only one in a string of attacks in Qubba on Friday. He said one other attack targeted the home of Parliament Speaker Ageila Saleh, who represents the elected government, based in eastern Libya.

A third attack targeted the security headquarters building itself, said the official, who also gave a different casualty figure, putting the total death toll at around 25.

Such conflicting tolls are common in the aftermath of large attacks. Hospital officials and others in Qubba could not immediately be reached for comment.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which Hegazi said bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants who have battled the army for months in and around the eastern city of Benghazi.

In Somalia, at least two people were killed with the country’s deputy prime minister among some officials who were wounded in a suicide bomb attack on a hotel near the presidential palace in the capital, a Somali police official said.

One person rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the hotel, and another suicide bomber then entered the hotel and blew himself up, Capt. Mohammed Hussein told The Associated Press.

Al-Shabab, an Islamic insurgent group, claimed the responsibility for this attack, according to the group’s radio station, Andulus.

Two bloodied bodies were lying outside the hotel in central Mogadishu, as soldiers cordoned off the area and fired bullets into the air to disperse approaching crowds.

Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte was rushed to a hospital, and was among several other high-ranking government officials at the hotel at the time of the attack, Hussein said.

“They don’t care about life, humans and Muslims,” said an elderly woman sobbing beside the dead body of a man outside the hotel.

This is the second attack on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On Jan. 22, three Somali nationals were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who visited the country days later. A Somali intelligence official said that the Turkish delegation of around 70 members was staying at the hotel at the time of the attack but were unharmed.

Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia’s government and remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and in neighboring countries, including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak U.N.- backed government.

Al-Shabab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.

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