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Somali forces ended a 30-hour siege of a popular hotel in the country’s capital, after Islamist militants stormed the building over the weekend in what has been described as the biggest assault since the new president took office in May, Al Jazeera reported Sunday.
Al-Shabab fighters unleashed a gun and bomb attack on the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu on Friday evening, killing 21 people and injuring 117 others.
Western governments and the United Nations condemned the siege.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes a few months after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was sworn in. Mohamud’s government has made security its top priority and has stepped up efforts against the armed group.
The Islamist insurgents have been fighting the Somali government for more than a decade, seeking to topple it and establish their own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Analysts noted that the brazen assault underscored the group’s strength and the many challenges that the new president will face in fighting them, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the World Food Program, al-Shabab’s insurgency is worsening the impacts of a record-breaking drought, with roughly half of Somalia’s population now suffering from serious hunger. Aid agencies warned that almost a million Somalis have migrated to Mogadishu and other Somali cities this year in search of food and water.