Dozens killed in all-night hotel siege in Somalia's Kismayu
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Somali forces Saturday morning ended an all-night siege on a hotel in the southern port city of Kismayo that killed at least 26 people, including a prominent Canadian-Somali journalist, local officials have said.
At least four assailants attacked the Asasey Hotel Friday evening, beginning with a suicide car bomb at the entrance gate and followed by an assault by gunmen who stormed the hotel, which is frequented by politicians, patrons and lawmakers.
A presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections was killed in the attack, Jubbaland president Ahmed Mohamed Islam told a news conference, adding several foreigners were among the dead.
"Twenty-six people were killed in the attack and fifty-six others wounded, among those killed are […] three Kenyans, one Canadian, one British, two Americans, and three Tanzanians. There are also two wounded Chinese citizens," the regional president said.
Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, also died in the attack, Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed to The Associated Press.
Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the brazen assault, which last more than 14 hours.
The militant group, which is allied to al Qaeda, often uses car bombs to infiltrate heavily fortified targets like the hotel in Kismayo, which has been relatively quiet in recent years.
"I'm absolutely devastated by the news of the death of our dear sister Hodan Nalayeh and her husband in a terrorist attack in Somalia today. What a loss to us. Her beautiful spirit shined through her work and the way she treated people," Omar Suleiman, a Texas-based imam who knew the victim, wrote on social media.
Nalayeh was born in Somalia in 1976, but spent most of her life in Canada, first in Alberta and then in Toronto. She founded Integration TV, an international web-based video production company aimed at Somali viewers around the world. She was the first Somali woman media owner in the world.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)