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Somalia says 12 Al Shabaab militants killed in hotel raids

12 July 2015, 10:43

Mogadishu - Somalia's government said Saturday that 12 Shebab militants were killed in Friday evening's raids on two heavily-fortified Mogadishu hotels.

Internal Security Minister Abdirasak Omar Mohamed told reporters that "it was only them (the attackers) who died" in the coordinated suicide strikes.

"The violent elements attacked the Weheliye and Siyaad hotels in order to disrupt people from breaking their fast in peace. Seven attackers were involved in the hotel Weheliye attack while five attackers were involved in the Siyaad hotel, and all of them were killed," he said.

However a statement from the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said the raids "resulted in the death and injuries of civilians, members of the security forces, AMISOM (African Union) troops and government officials".

Security sources said late Friday at least five people died, and witnesses said at least a dozen people were wounded. The evening also saw mortar rounds fired at Mogadishu's former main football stadium, now a key base for African Union troops.

The two hotels are both fortified and heavily guarded, and are popular with lawmakers from the nearby parliament, as well as government workers and businessmen.

Shebab insurgents have carried out repeated attacks in the area, and messages posted on websites close to the Al-Qaeda-linked group said the Islamists claimed responsiblity for the hotel raids.

The Islamic militants have stepped up their attacks during Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan, and the Friday raids came as people settled down to break their daylight fast.

The Shebab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government which is propped up and protected by a 22,000-strong African Union force, AMISOM.

Shebab attacks seek to counter claims that they are close to defeat after losing territory in the face of an AU and Somali government offensive and regular US drone strikes against their leaders as well as facing defections.

Mogadishu was quiet early Saturday, with road traffic gradually starting to use the road where the attacked hotels are located. The area was however littered with the debris of destroyed vehicles, electrical and telephone wires as well as dust and tree branches.

Somalia's defence minister, Abdukadir Sheik Ali Dini, said the Shebab would be defeated.

"We call on the Somali parents to stop their children from being misled by the terrorists, we assure you that our security forces with the help of the people will remain determined to defeat the violent elements," he told reporters.

CORD Leader Raila Odinga was present at the first edition of the Luo Festival in Nairobi Saturday where he addressed a massive crowd.

The CORD leader was received by huge cheers at the Carnivore Grounds Saturday night after being invited on stage to make a speech.

He steered clear of politics during his speech.

" I urge you to enjoy yourselves as that is what we have come to do here and to enjoy being Kenyans and in Kenya," he said in a mixture of Luo and Swahili, English.

He was accompanied by his wife Ida Odinga.

Earlier in the day, the CORD leader had called on his supporters to gear for war in the 2017 elections, saying that he was in the race to win it.

He stated that he has the tools to win an election he describes as crucial to the country.

" I am in the race and my strategy for winning it is in place. It is up to you now to register as voters and go ahead to vote," he said during a funeral in Ahero.

Raila also insisted that graft at the National Youth Service must be dealt with and that he would not relent until Devolution CS Anne Waiguru was kicked out of office.

" The government has to fight corruption at all costs and show Kenyans that it is serious with the war against graft," he added.

Raila was  speaking at the burial of Mzee Ogindo Oyamo, a former aide to his late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

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