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Shabab militants kill 17, take hostages in Mogadishu
The extremist group, Shabab, carried out a devastating attack on Wednesday, in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
The attack began with a car bomb in front of the Posh Hotel, frequented by foreigners, and then moved on to gunfire in a restaurant nearby, according to news from the New York Times.
The violent attack has left 17 dead, and dozens of people have been taken hostage, local authorities and emergency services confirmed. Special forces dispatched were able to rescue 50 hostages, according to the state news media.
The attacks have followed a recent spate where Shabab had infiltrated a military base in northeastern Somalia less than a week ago, killing soldiers and civilians including children. The group has claimed responsibility for both attacks on their website, the New York Times reports.
The group has strong links to Al-Qaeda, and has been fighting against the UN-backed government in Somalia with a motive to implement stronger laws based on strict interpretations of Islam.
They have also been active in Uganda and Kenya, including the Westgate Mall Siege of 2013 in Nairobi, and recent attacks in Kenya killing dozens. Although the number of hostages was unconfirmed as of Thursday, the group is known to kill its hostages instead of holding them ransom.
The group is infamous for their hotel attacks, usually targeting ones popular with foreigners, but has suffered setbacks as well, including deaths of leaders and loss of territory.
Last Sunday, the United States carried out a drone strike in southern Somalia against Shabab, following recent changes in the White House that saw the relaxation of regulations surrounding civilian casualties during counterterrorism strikes.
The strike was targeted at a command and logistics section of a Shabab camp according to the military, and follows President Donald Trump’s initiative to carry out strikes in Somalia without a specific self-defense rationale, says New York Times.