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Death toll from attack on Mogadishu hotel rises to 16

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - At least 16 people were killed in an attack on Sunday by al Shabaab on a seaside hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, a government spokesman said, as the Islamist group launched a similar assault on a Somali military base.

Sunday’s toll includes 11 victims and five assailants, Ismail Mukhtar Omar said in a tweet late on Sunday, adding: “Security forces lost one, 18 people were injured.”

Militants stormed the high-end Elite Hotel in Lido beach, detonated a car bomb and then opened fire with assault rifles, the latest attack by al Shabaab, which has been battling the country’s central government since 2008.

Aamin ambulance services transported to hospitals at least 43 people injured in the attack, its head Abdikadir Abdirahman told Reuters on Monday.

The hotel is owned by Abdullahi Mohamed Nor, a lawmaker and former finance minister, and is popular with government officials and members of the Somali diaspora.

Al Shabaab wants to topple the central government and establish its own rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

On Monday, five soldiers were killed after fighters from the group launched a car bomb and gun assault on a Somali military base in the Goofgaduud area, about 30 kilometres from the town of Baidoa in Somalia’s southwest.

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Three soldiers were killed when a suicide car bomber rammed the gate to the base, Major Mohamed Aden, a military officer in Baidoa told Reuters.

Soldiers abandoned the base and al Shabaab fighters entered it, planting a booby-trap bomb on the body of one of the dead men, he said. “When soldiers came back to carry the dead, (a) bomb went off from the body of the dead soldier, killing two more soldiers,” Aden added.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters the attackers had killed eight soldiers, including the base commander.

Over the years al Shabaab has waged its war through bombings and gun assaults on military and civilian targets like hotels and busy intersections in Mogadishu and across Somalia.

Al Shabaab has also carried out attacks in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda as revenge for their military deployments in Somalia as part of a regional peace keeping mission.

Somalia has been embroiled in violence since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew leader Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Giles Elgood and Catherine Evans

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