The death toll from Somalia’s Kismayu hotel attack on Friday has risen to 26, including Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians, Jubbaland region’s president said on Saturday. Police in Kismayu had earlier put the toll at 13.
A presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections was also killed in the attack, carried out by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, Jubbaland president Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement.
Somalia’s security forces on Saturday ended an overnight attack by the al Shabaab Islamist militant group on a hotel in the southern port city of Kismayu.
Members of the al-Qaeda linked group stormed the hotel after targeting it with a car bomb on Friday while local elders and lawmakers were meeting to discuss approaching regional elections.
A journalists’ group had confirmed on Friday that two journalists were among the dead; Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Naleyah, the founder of Integration TV, and Mohamed Sahal Omar, reporter of SBC TV in Kismayu.
Al Shabaab was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.
It was driven out of Kismayu in 2012. The city’s port had been a major source of revenue for the group from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.
Kismayu is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region of southern Somalia still partly controlled by al Shabaab.
Al Shabaab remains a major security threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend the Somali government.