Somali parliament strikes session, gunfire heard at besieged lodge

Government officials frequently use the Villa Rosa hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, for meetings.

Somalia’s parliament has announced the postponement of a scheduled session as reports of gunfire inside a besieged hotel in Mogadishu continue.

Gunshots were heard from the Villa Rose hotel, near the presidential residence, on Monday, a nearby resident and a police officer said.

Villa Rose was invaded on Sunday by fighters from al-Shabab, an armed group linked to al-Qaeda, using weapons and explosives, and a police official said at the time that some government officials escaped through its windows.

“There is still heavy shooting inside the hotel and we hear explosions from time to time…we are still in our houses since last night when the siege started,” Ismail Haaji, who lives near the hotel, told Reuters.

Special forces units, known as Gaashaan and Haramcad, had taken over the operations, a police official at the scene said on condition of anonymity.

“The fighters who launched the attack are still fighting inside the hotel, and they are fighting with the forces of Haramcad and Gaashaan, and the security forces are trying to rescue the people trapped inside the hotel,” the official added.

The number of victims of the siege and the number of people rescued is still unclear.

Mogadishu government officials frequently use the Villa Rosa hotel for meetings.

Somalia’s parliament said it had postponed a scheduled session for both houses.

“All members of parliament from both councils are informed that the meeting scheduled for today has been postponed,” he said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to overthrow the government and establish its own government based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, frequently organizes attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected this year, has launched a military offensive against the group.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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