HomeMiddle EastSomali parliament moves session, gunfire heard at besieged hotel

Somali parliament moves session, gunfire heard at besieged hotel

Government officials frequently use the Villa Rosa hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu for meetings.

Somalia’s parliament has announced the postponement of a scheduled session as reports continued of gunfire being heard inside a besieged Mogadishu hotel.

Gunfire was heard from the Villa Rose hotel, near the presidential residence, on Monday, a nearby resident and a police officer said.

The Villa Rose was invaded on Sunday by fighters from al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked armed group, using guns and explosives, with a police officer saying at the time that some government officials escaped from its windows.

“There is still heavy gunfire inside the hotel and we hear explosions from time to time … we are still in our houses since last night, when the siege started,” Ismail Haaji, who lives near the hotel, told Reuters.

Special forces units, known as Gaashaan and Haramcad, had taken over operations, a police officer at the scene said on condition of anonymity.

“The fighters who launched the attack are still fighting inside the hotel, and they are fighting with the forces of Haramcad and Gaashaan, and security forces are trying to rescue the people trapped inside the hotel,” the officer added.

The number of casualties from the siege and the number of people rescued was not yet clear.

Government officials in Mogadishu frequently use the Villa Rosa hotel for meetings.

Somalia’s parliament said it had postponed a scheduled session for both of its houses.

“All members of parliament of both councils are being informed that today’s scheduled meeting has been postponed,” it said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Al-Shabab, which is seeking to topple the government and establish its own rule based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, frequently stages attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected this year, has launched a military offensive against the group.

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