The siege at the Tawakal hotel marked al-Shabab’s second major attack in Somalia this month amid an offensive against the group by the Somali National Army and allied militia in central Somalia.
In early October, a triple bombing in the town of Beledweyne left at least 20 people dead.
Abdisalam Guled, the director of Eagle Ranges Services, a Mogadishu-based security company, told VOA that al-Shabab is staging war in every part of Somalia and sending a message to the government in Mogadishu.
Guled said Sunday’s attack on the Tawakal Hotel in Kismayo shows that al-Shabab can attack anywhere any time. He said it also shows how al-Shabab has information about the people preparing themselves to fight the group. Guled says he has information that there were ongoing meetings in the hotel to discuss how al-Shabab could be fought.
A long battle
Al-Shabab has been fighting to topple the internationally recognized Somali government for more than 15 years.
Guled warned that, should the government fail to defeat al-Shabab, the consequences could be disastrous, especially for communities that joined forces with the government and dispatched militias to the battlefront.
Guled said the fight against al-Shabab is going on in specific areas and, in order to weaken al-Shabab, there should be more front lines. Jubaland state should join the war; Southwest state should join the war. Guled said clans should be encouraged and authorities in the Puntland state should join the effort.
Yusuf Hussein Osman, Jubaland’s regional state minister for security, described what happened on Sunday.
Osman said there were four terrorists; one blew himself up at the gate and three others forced their way into the hotel. All were eliminated, he said. Osman also said the majority of hostages in the hotel were rescued but there were casualties involving students from a nearby school.
Osman said plans were already under way for deceased victims of the attack to be buried.
Abdiaziz Hussein Issack, a security analyst with the Hamad Bin Khalifa Civilization Center in Denmark, said the government should prepare for a drawn-out battle in Jubaland because al-Shabab has a strong presence there.
“I think Jubaland state is the stronghold of al-Shabab,” he said. “The fiercest war against al-Shabab will take place in this state if the group is defeated in central Somalia. The state is the breeding ground of al-Shabab as the top leaders are in this state.”
The raid on Sunday was the group’s deadliest in Kismayo since 2019 when 26 people — among them Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Naleyeh — were killed in an attack on another hotel.