Somalia

Six MPs dead in attack on Mogadishu hotel

Reuters

Somalia's Islamist Shebab group carried out a suicide attack on a hotel in Mogadishu Tuesday, killing at least 30 people including six members of parliament. Two Islamist rebels disguised as government security forces opened fire on guests at the Hotel Mona before blowing themselves up to avoid arrest.

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The attack comes on the second day of fighting between the Al-Qaeda-linked group and members of the transition government backed by the African Union, which has already left dozens of civilians dead.

Explainer - Who are Al-Shebab?

Fighting broke out on Monday afternoon when Shebab fighters launched an offensive on army barracks in several districts of the capital.

Somali government security officer Colonel Mohammed Omar said that heavy fighting resumed Tuesday morning around several frontlines including the Holwadag, Hodan and Bondhere areas.

"Government forces are inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy," he said. "We have killed more than fifteen of their fighters."

The Shebab and their allies from the Hezb al-Islam group launched a major offensive against the embattled Western-backed transitional federal government in May 2009.

This latest attack comes as no surprise, says Roland Marchal, a Somalia expert with France's National Centre of Scientific Research, since Shebab had repeatedly warned that the period of Ramadan would be "the months of war".

Roland Marchal, Somalia analyst

But the fact that the rebels were able to target MPs so easily raises questions about the credibility of Somalia's AU-backed transition government, Marchal suggests.

"What Shebab is doing is emphasising that once more the international community has bet on a specific Somali ally that is not able to deliver," he told RFI.

The government controls a few blocks housing the presidency and other key institutions. It has owed its survival chiefly to the protection of more than 6,000 Burundian and Ugandan African Union troops.

Following deadly suicide attacks in Kampala last month which were claimed by the Shebab, the AU vowed to send thousands more troops to Mogadishu in a bid to flush out the insurgency.

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