Stains of blood cover a hallway inside the Hotel Muna in Mogadishu, 24 Aug 2010
More fighting has erupted in Somalia’s capital, a day after Islamist militants attacked a hotel and killed more than 30 people.
Witnesses say the insurgent group al-Shabab and pro-government forces exchanged heavy artillery Wednesday. At least six people were reported killed.
Commanders on the government side said they held their positions in the face of overnight attacks by al-Shabab.
On Tuesday, al-Shabab gunmen attacked a hotel in one of the few parts of Mogadishu under government control. In a statement Wednesday, the Somali ministry of information put the death toll from the attack at 33, including four members of parliament.
The United States strongly condemned the attack. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the fact that the attack took place during Ramadan highlights al-Shabab’s complete disregard for human life, Somali culture, and Islam.
Al-Shabab and another insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, want to topple the Somali government and establish a strict Islamic state. The groups have already imposed harshly conservative Islamic law in the areas under their control.
Al-Shabab said Monday that it was launching what it called a new offensive against the Somali government and African Union troops that support it.
The AU force helps the government maintain control of three key sites – the airport, seaport, and presidential palace.