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Watch: Explosions in Mogadishu as Al-Shabaab Militants Storm Hotel, Fight Somali Security Forces

A US airstrike killed 13 members of the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab over the weekend, the latest in a uptick of fighting with the al-Qaeda-aligned group that has stubbornly held onto territory in the Somalian interior.

Three explosions reportedly rocked Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu on Friday. Some of the blasts reportedly happened near a hotel close to KM4 Junction, a large traffic circle located in a strategic part of the coastal city. The explosions are said to have been followed by heavy gunfire at the hotel, with security forces reportedly trying to fend off the attackers.

A Somali journalist in the capital reported the attack was mounted by Al-Shabaab militants, who were being fought by security forces inside the Hayat Hotel. He noted the hotel is popular with both government officials and clan elders, several of whom have been wounded in the fighting, including intelligence chief Muhudin Warbac.

In videos posted on social media, smoke can be seen billowing into the sky as the sound of gunfire cracks through the streets.

One video purported to capture the moment the attack was launched.

Somali security forces eventually rescued numerous prominent elders, although the Al-Shabaab fighters were reportedly not defeated.

US forces operating in the country delivered devastating strikes on Al-Shabaab over the weekend in locations near the Ethiopian border. The US has between 500 and 750 troops in the country and operates spy aircraft and drones from air bases in Djibouti and Kenya.

The East African country has also been threatened with factional violence in the last year, as competing visions for the country’s federal-level political system vie for supremacy. Parts of the Somali army fought each other in the capital city in April 2021 amid an attempt by then-President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, to extend his presidential term and circumvent the political impasse.

In addition, a prolonged drought has placed millions in danger of famine, displacing more than 1 million people inside the country. Across the Horn of Africa, some 22 million people are endangered by the water shortages.

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