Al-Shabab Attacks Hotel In Somalia; 32 killed, Including 6 Lawmakers

by
staphni
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Islamist militants wearing Somali military uniforms stormed a hotel favoured by lawmakers in the war-battered capital Tuesday, firing indiscriminately and killing 32 people, including six parliamentarians A suicide bomber and one of the gunmen was also killed in the brazen attack just a half-mile (1 kilometre) from the presidential palace. The attack showed the insurgent group al-Shabab, which controls wide areas of Somalia, can penetrate even the few blocks of the capital under the control of the government and African Union troops. Tuesday's well-planned assault came one day after al-Shabab warned of a new "massive war." Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, an insurgent spokesman, said the attack by members of the group's "special forces" targeted government leaders, foreign agents and "apostates" at the $10-a-night Muna Hotel. Survivors of the hour-long slaughter described seeing bodies strewn throughout the hotel and people scrambling to safety through windows. An 11-year-old shoeshine boy and a woman selling tea were among the dead. In an interview with The Associated Press, one parliamentarian said she was jolted awake by the popping sound of gunfire. Saynab Qayad said three fellow lawmakers staying on the top floor of the three-story hotel drew their guns while other guests fled out windows. "Smoke filled my room after bullets smashed my window. I hid myself in a corner of the room. Then a guest next door came to my door, screaming 'Come out! Come out!' And when I came out bullets continued to fly around. "I went back to my room and locked my door. Shortly afterward, the hotel staff asked me to come down and put me in a room at the second floor with four other survivors," she said. "The body of a member of parliament was lying at that small room's door." After it was over, Somali government forces tied the body of one of the dead assailants to the back of a pickup truck and dragged it through the dusty streets of the capital, a scene eerily reminiscen