Islamist Shebab militants on Friday (July 12th) launched a car bomb against a hotel in the port city of Kismayo, southern Somalia, and gunmen attacked the facility, killing at least seven people, according to a security source.

"We have confirmed the death of seven people, including a former minister of local administration and a deputy, the balance sheet could increase because the attack is not over yet," said a security officer, Abdi Dhuhul.

The attack began in the late afternoon, when a car bomb exploded at the entrance to the popular Medina Hotel in central Kismayo. "Several armed men then entered (into the hotel), but the security forces quickly responded and began fighting with the terrorists in the building," said another local security official, Abdiweli Mohamed. The attack was not over at 11:00 pm (20:00 GMT) as sporadic shots were still heard.

Social activist and journalist killed

Witnesses confirmed the death of several people, including a social media activist and her husband, as well as a local journalist. "The explosion was huge, and then armed men came in and exchanged fire with the security forces, it was chaos inside, I saw several dead people whose bodies were being taken out of the house. area, and people were fleeing from neighboring buildings, "said a witness, Hussein Muktar.

The Shebab claimed in a statement the attack against those whom they described as "apostate officials of the Jubaland administration". They claimed that their men had managed to take control of the hotel. According to several local sources, the hotel housed mainly businessmen and politicians who were in town for the preparation of the presidential election in the semi-autonomous region of Jubaland, scheduled for late August.

Hidden from Mogadishu in 2011, the Shebab then lost most of their strongholds. But they still control large rural areas from which they carry out guerrilla operations and suicide bombings, including in the capital, against government, security or civilian objectives.

Affiliated with al-Qaeda, they vowed the loss of the Somali government, backed by the international community and the 20,000-strong African Union force in Somalia (Amisom).

With AFP