Somalia’s suffering continues as 15 killed in hotel siege

Attack comes amid increased efforts by government to quell Islamist militant group Al Shabaab

A siege on a Mogadishu hotel that started on Sunday night ended on Monday afternoon with 15 people dead, according to Somali police.

The incident, at the popular Villa Rays hotel, was carried out by attackers from Islamist militant group Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda and has long been battling to take control of the Horn of Africa nation.

Eight civilians and a soldier were among the dead, according to a police spokesman. About 60 people were rescued from the hotel, which has also been referred to publicly as the Villa Rose.

Somalia’s government, backed by the US and African Union forces, has recently intensified its efforts against Al Shabaab, which controls large swathes of the country. The militant group has concurrently continued its attacks against civilian and military targets.


Last month, 121 people were killed in a double suicide bombing in Mogadishu, which was claimed by the Islamist militant group and targeted the education ministry. At least 21 people were killed and dozens injured in another siege on a hotel in August.

“The attack on Villa Rays where I and other government officials reside is by no means a manifestation of an emboldened terrorists,” tweeted Somalia’s minister of state for the environment and climate change, Adam Aw Hirsi, who was at the hotel when the attack began. “To the contrary, the desperate move shows that the terror kingpins running for dear life are throwing their last kicks. We’ll not let up the war.”

Many Somalis are tired of violence, and of having to continue their normal lives with such turmoil and danger going on around them.

“The hotel is close to the National Theatre, where a graduation ceremony is taking place this morning. Is that what we would call resilience?” tweeted Hussein Mohamed, a freelance journalist who writes about Somalia for the New York Times, on Monday, when the siege had been ongoing for 12 hours.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of mass casualty incidents related to the conflict between January and October this year compared to the same period last year, with the number rising to 57. That data was collected from four major hospitals which they support, in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Kismayo, where 2,113 patients with conflict-related injuries were treated this year, 197 more than the same period in 2021.

Somalia is also experiencing a devastating drought that has left millions of people in desperate need of food aid, with a famine expected to be declared in the coming months.

On Monday, as the hotel siege was continuing, the first ever Somalia International Investment Conference opened in Mogadishu. Speakers included president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who emphasised that Somalia is open for investment. United Nations resident co-ordinator and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, also spoke at the event.

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports on Africa