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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Somali police and intelligence chiefs sacked after Al Shabab hotel attack

At least 27 dead in storming of hotel on Saturday that came two weeks after lorry bombing killed hundreds

A Somali woman mourns at the scene of the attack on the Nasahablod Two Hotel in Mogadishu's Hamarweyne district on October 29, 2017. Feisal Omar / Reuters
A Somali woman mourns at the scene of the attack on the Nasahablod Two Hotel in Mogadishu's Hamarweyne district on October 29, 2017. Feisal Omar / Reuters

Somalia's government dismissed the national police and intelligence chiefs on Sunday after a deadly attack on a hotel in the capital by Al Shabab militants.

Intelligence agency boss Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbalooshe and police chief Abdihakim Dahir Said were "fired for the purpose of serious accountability," information minister Abdirahman Omar Osman announced after a cabinet meeting.

The attack on the Nasahablod Two hotel came exactly two weeks after a lorry bombing killed at least 358 people in the capital.

Security minister Mohamed Abukar Islow told the cabinet meeting that the death toll from the hotel attack was 27, two fewer than the figure given earlier by police.

Gunmen stormed the hotel in Mogadishu after a suicide car bomber rammed the entrance, leading to a siege lasting nearly 12 hours. A second suicide car bomber struck at the former parliament building nearby soon afterwards.

Abdullahi Nur, a police officer who earlier gave the death toll as 29, said at least 12 of the dead were police officers. A woman was beheaded while her three children were shot dead, he said.

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Seven bodies were seen lying inside the hotel.

Three militants were captured alive and two others blew themselves up after they were shot, police said. But one police officer said that some militants may have disguised themselves and escaped with the residents who were rescued from the hotel.

The attack began at around 5pm on Saturday when a car bomb rammed the gates of the Nasahablod Two hotel, which is close to the presidential palace, and destroyed the hotel's defences.

The explosion destroyed the front of the three-storey hotel and damaged the hotel next door. Many Somali officials live in fortified hotels for the security they offer.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin ambulances, complained the emergency service had been denied access to the blast site.

"After the hotel operation was over, we wanted to transport the casualties … all entrances of the scene were blocked by security forces.

Al Shabab claimed Saturday's attack and said 40 people had been killed, including three of its fighters who stormed the hotel. The government and the militant group typically give different figures for victims in such attacks.

The Al Qaeda-affiliated militants did not claim responsibility for the lorry bombing on October 14, but the method is one they have used often.

Al Shabab wants to overthrow the weak, UN-backed government and impose a strict form of Islamic law.