The State Department is now investigating and verifying this, communications adviser Ragnhild Halland Semenstad wrote in an email. she was VG which first mentioned the message that Norwegian citizens can be affected by.
No further details were available on the Norwegians on Sunday afternoon.
At least 21 people were killed in the attack, for which the extremist Islamist movement Al-Shabab claimed responsibility. It began on Friday evening when two car bombs exploded at the entrance to the hotel. Only 30 hours later, the security forces in the Somali capital managed to control the situation.
– We are horrified by the brutal terrorist attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu, including against the Hayat Hotel. Our condolences to everyone who lost a loved one, and to everyone who was injured, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
From room to room
Somali Health Minister Ali Haji Aden stated that the attack killed at least 21 people and wounded 117. Security forces rescued 106 people from the hotel, including women and children.
The last of the attackers were suppressed around midnight on Sunday.
– Most of the dead and wounded were affected in the first hours of the attack. Then, security forces spent time rescuing people individually, room by room, says Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hajjar of the Mogadishu police.
The Somali authorities have not yet said anything about the number of Al-Shabaab fighters who participated in the attack or the number of Al-Shabaab fighters killed.
Security was still tight on Sunday in the area around the hotel, and roads in the area were also closed. Rescue workers and disarmament teams cleared the rubble and removed any explosives.
Search the ruins
The hotel was badly damaged in the fighting between Islamists and security forces, and parts of the building collapsed. Several relatives frantically searched the ruins for people who were inside the hotel when the attack began.
Dozens gathered Sunday morning on the road to the hotel, desperately in need of news of family members.
Among them was businessman Mukhtar Adan, who was waiting for permission to enter the hotel to look for his brother.
– He was at the hotel when we last heard about him, but his phone is now switched off and we don’t know what to expect, Adan tells AFP.
The hotel was known as a meeting place for civil servants and government employees.
Somalia’s allies, including the United States, Britain and Turkey, condemned the attack. This was also done by the Atmis Force, the force tasked by the African Union (AU) with the task of helping Somali forces to control the security situation in the country by 2024.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and expressed in a statement on Saturday his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Somalia.
Earlier this week, the United States announced that US forces had killed 13 al-Shabab members in an airstrike. The country’s President Joe Biden has re-established US force in Somalia, after his predecessor Donald Trump withdrew these forces.
The terrorist attack is the largest in Mogadishu since new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in June and highlights the challenge of tackling the 15-year Islamist insurgency.
– Sending a Message
Samira Qaid, head of the Hiraal Institute think tank in Mogadishu, told AFP that the attack was a message for the new government and its foreign allies.
A full-scale attack will show that they are still highly present, relevant and can breach the government’s security measures and carry out such attacks, she said.
President Mahmoud said in July that ending the insurgency required more than a military approach, but that his government would only negotiate with the group when the time came.
The president is said to have later said that the government’s number one goal was to combat the group militarily and weaken it before negotiations were relevant, according to Jade.
Al-Shabab has carried out several attacks in Somalia since Mahmoud took office, including in July, along the Ethiopian border. The group was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011, but it still controls large areas of the countryside.
The deadliest attack the group was behind occurred in October 2017, when a truck packed with explosives exploded in Mogadishu. 512 people were killed.
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