Tag Archives: gunfire

Somalia hotel hit by explosion and gunfire; casualties expected

A suspected suicide car bomb exploded on Sunday in Somalia’s capital and was followed by a shootout between militants and security forces at a hotel, causing an unknown number of casualties, witnesses and authorities said.

A vehicle loaded with explosives crashed into the entrance gate of the Afrik Hotel, near Mogadishu’s strategic K-4 junction, on Sunday afternoon, police spokesperson Sadiq Adan Ali said.

A number of armed gunmen then quickly invaded the hotel, opening fire on staff and patrons inside, he said. Government forces responded to the attack, and gunfire could be heard coming from the hotel. Police rescued many people from the hotel, including its owner and an army general.

At least seven wounded civilians could be seen, although police did not immediately give casualty figures.

“The blast made the hotel tremble as we sat inside and were talking. We were panicked, confused,” witness Ahmed Nur said, adding that he escaped via a ladder down a wall. “I jumped down and ran.”

In this image made from video, people flee from the area as gunshots are heard on a street near the Afrik Hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s homegrown jihadist rebel group, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Andalus radio station.

“We know, they have changed nothing from their usual tactic, ramming explosives into a building and following up, assaulting with rifles,” Ali said.

There was no immediate word from Somali officials or the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission, which supports the government against al Shabaab.

In a separate incident, at least eight children have died and scores of others were wounded when a bomb went off in the Golweyn area, about 40 kilometres north of the coastal town of Merca, some 120 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

Smoke billows from the scene of the explosion in what’s known as the Kilometre-4 area of Mogadishu. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)

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Central Vienna rocked by gunfire in suspected terror attack

Gunmen opened fire on people enjoying a last evening out in Vienna before a coronavirus lockdown Monday in a terror attack that left at least two dead — including one of the attackers — and 15 wounded, authorities said.

“I am glad that our police were able to neutralize one of the attackers,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. “We will not never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks with all means.”

Police said that several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. local time on a lively street in the city centre and that there were six shooting locations.

Austria’s top security official said that authorities believe there were several gunmen involved and that a police operation was still going on hours later.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told Austrian broadcaster ORF that the attack was believed to have been carried out by several people, with several still at large, and that all six locations were in the immediate vicinity of the street housing the central synagogue.

“At the moment, I can confirm we believe this is an apparent terror attack,” he said.

“We believe there are several perpetrators. Unfortunately there are also several injured, probably also dead.”

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig said 15 people were hospitalized, seven with serious injuries.

Authorities gave no indication of the identity of the assailants or the reason for the attack.

President Emmanuel Macron of France, which has seen two deadly knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.

“This is our Europe,” he said. “Our enemies must know with whom they are dealing. We will not retreat.”

WATCH | Unclear whether attack specifically targeted synagogue, reporter in Vienna tells CBC News:

Freelance reporter John Cummings tells CBC News from Vienna that several people there are reported injured in multiple locations after several exchanges of gunfire. The interior minister said it’s believed to be a terror attack. 8:31

French officials have ramped up security after the attacks in Paris and Nice, which had suspected Islamist motives. Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools, and ministers have warned that other Islamist militant attacks could take place.

A spokesperson for the ambulance service said at least one person had been killed and several injured. One of the suspects and a bystander had been shot dead and a police officer was among those injured, local news agency APA said.

Police block a street near Schwedenplatz square after exchanges of gunfire at six different locations in Vienna, Austria, late Monday. (Lisi Niesner/Reuters)

Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said on Twitter that it was not clear whether the Vienna synagogue and adjoining offices had been the target of an attack, and said they were closed at the time.

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told The Associated Press that he saw at least one person fire shots at people sitting outside bars in the street below his window.

“They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Hofmeister said.

“All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown,” he said. “As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out.”

Austria’s interior minister says the shootings are believed to be a terror attack. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Kurz said these were “difficult hours for our republic” and vowed: “Our police will act decisively against the culprits of this despicable terror attack.”

Videos circulated on social media of a gunman running down a cobblestone street shooting and shouting. Reuters could not immediately verify the videos.

Vienna police urged people not to share videos and photos via social media. “This jeopardizes police forces as well as the civilian population,” they said on Twitter.

In 1981, two people were killed and 18 injured during an attack by two Palestinians at the same synagogue. In 1985, a Palestinian extremist group attacked Vienna airport with hand grenades and assault rifles, killing three civilians.

In recent years, Austria has been spared the sort of large-scale attacks seen in Paris, Berlin and London.

In August, authorities arrested a 31-year-old Syrian refugee suspected of trying to attack a Jewish community leader in the city of Graz. The leader was unhurt.

A large-scale police operation was underway Monday evening in Vienna after gunmen opened fire in 6 locations around Vienna’s city centre. (CBC News)

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Kenya hotel attack may not be over as renewed gunfire heard

There are indications an attack on a hotel in Kenya's captial may not be over. More than 12 hours after the initial explosions and gunfire Tuesday, a first responder reported renewed gunfire and explosions coming from the Nairobi  complex. 

Extremists initially attacked a luxury hotel Tuesday afternoon local time, sending people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the complex and black smoke rose over the scene. 

Surveillance video showed three attackers dressed in black running across the parking lot at 3:30 p.m., shortly followed by a fourth. At least two of the men were wearing green scarves in the close-up footage. One appeared to be wearing a green belt with grenades on it.

Al-Shabaab — the Somalia-based extremist group that carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi that left 67 people dead — claimed responsibility.

In this grab taken from security camera footage released to the local media, heavily armed attackers walk in the compound of a Nairobi hotel Tuesday. (Security Camera Footage/Associated Press)

"It is terrible. What I have seen is terrible. I have seen a human as I ran out, and there is what looks like minced meat all over," said one man who said he ran from the scene, Charles Njenga. He did not give details.

The co-ordinated assault began with an explosion that targeted three vehicles outside a bank, and a suicide bombing in the hotel lobby that severely wounded a number of guests, said Kenya's national police chief, Joseph Boinnet.

Cars are seen on fire at the scene of explosions and gunshots in Nairobi on Tuesday. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

About eight hours after the siege began, Interior Minister Fred Matian'i said that all of the buildings affected by the attack had been secured and that security forces were mopping up.

"I would like to reiterate that the situation is under control and the country is safe," he said.

But into the early hours of Wednesday local time, gunfire could still be heard as authorities evacuated about 150 survivors from the buildings, according to a first responder, who said a pregnant woman and the daughter of a former Kenyan politician were among them. 

Civilians who had been hiding in buildings flee under the direction of a member of security forces. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

He said many more wounded remained trapped inside.

A Kenyan police officer said at least 15 bodies had been taken to the morgue over the course of the day. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

A U.S. State Department official confirmed one of the victims was American.

Kenyan authorities have not yet announced whether the attackers are dead, detained or on the run. 

Security camera footage released to the local media showed an armed attacker walking in the notel compound. Al-Shabab, the Somalia-based extremist group, is claiming responsibility. (Security Camera Footage/Associated Press)

Families have said some people are still hiding inside the complex.

A witness who gave his name only as Ken said he saw five bodies at the hotel entrance during the attack. He said that other people were shouting for help and "when we rushed back to try to rescue them, gunshots started coming from upstairs, and we had to duck, because they were targeting us and we could see two guys shooting."

​Kenyan hospitals appealed for blood donations even as the number of wounded remained unclear.

'Quite nerve-racking'

The complex includes the DusitD2 hotel, along with bars, restaurants, banks and offices and is in a well-to-do neighborhood with large numbers of American, European and Indian expatriates.

Security forces point their weapons through a shattered door behind which an unexploded grenade lies. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

Simon Crump, an Australian who has lived in Kenya for five years, told CBC's As It Happens he didn't know if it was safe to run outside when the violence broke out, so instead he and two colleagues barricaded themselves in his office and waited for things to subside.

They couldn't see anything, because they were on the side of the building facing away from the chaos.

"You'd hear footsteps above, you'd hear other things, other people moving around in the building," said Crump.

"And it's quite nerve-racking, because you just don't know whether the noises you're hearing, whether it's people, whether it's police, whether it's terrorists, you just don't know what those noises are."

Civilians flee the scene after terrorists attacked an upscale hotel complex in Kenya's capital Tuesday, sending people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the neighbourhood. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

Other survivors closer to the where the attackers rampaged reported hearing a shattering blast and saw people mowed down by gunmen as they sat at a cafe. Victims were left lying on tables, bleeding.

"We were changing our shifts, and that is when I heard a loud blast and people were screaming," said Enoch Kibet, who works as a cleaner at the cafe and managed to crawl out of a gate in the basement. "I couldn't believe I was alive. The blast was so loud and shook the whole complex."

Associated Press video from inside the hotel showed Kenyan security officers anxiously searching the building and scared workers emerging from hiding while gunfire could still be heard. Some women climbed out of windows. One man got up from the floor where he appeared to be trying to hide under a piece of wood paneling, then showed his ID badge.

As officers searched luxury fashion displays, wounded people were carried away on stretchers.

Anniversary of military base attack

Gunfire continued several minutes after the first reports as ambulances, security forces and firefighters converged on the scene. A bomb disposal unit arrived, and vehicles were cordoned off for fear they contained explosives.

Police said they blew up a car that had explosives inside. An unexploded grenade was also seen in a hallway at the complex.

Crump said gunfire could still be heard as him and his colleagues eventually evacuated.

"I don't know where those shots were coming from or who they were coming from, but as we were leaving it was definitely still much still very much active shooters around," he said.

Al-Shabaab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011. The al-Qaeda-linked group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya, which has been targeted more than any other of the six countries providing troops to an African Union force in Somalia. 

Members of security forces secure a building at the scene in Nairobi. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

The hotel complex in Nairobi's Westlands neighborhood is less than two kilometres from Westgate Mall and lies on a relatively quiet, tree-lined road in what is considered one of the most secure areas of the city. The hotel's website says it is "cocooned away from the hustle and bustle in a secure and peaceful haven."

"I've been here five years, and obviously you're aware of the security issues and the fact that hotels and corporate office blocks and shopping centres are high targets, but I think we've had a false sense of security," said Crump.

On Monday, a magistrate ruled that three men must stand trial on charges they were involved in the Westgate Mall siege. A fourth suspect was freed for lack of evidence.

The attack on Tuesday came three years to the day after al-Shabaab extremists attacked a Kenyan military base in neighbouring Somalia, killing scores of people.

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Mosque bombing, gunfire in Egypt's north Sinai leave at least 155 dead

Militants bombed a Sufi mosque and fired on worshippers in the volatile Sinai Peninsula during Friday prayers, Egyptian officials said, killing at least 155 people in what appeared to be the latest attack by the area’s affiliate of ISIS.

The extremists attacked the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, 40 kilometres from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish, opening fire from four off-road vehicles on worshippers inside during the sermon, three police officers said.

Victims were being transferred to local hospitals, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters. They said the ISIS militants had blocked escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads.

Egypt’s state news agency reported the casualty toll, citing “official sources,” revising it upward several times following the officials’ initial reports.

Largest attack of its kind

The attack was the largest single targeting of Egyptian civilians and the first on a large mosque congregation since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria affiliate began its campaign of violence against the state following the military’s 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president.

MENA reported that Egypt’s presidency declared a three-day mourning period for the attack, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi convened a high-level meeting of security officials.

An attack Friday on a mosque in Bir al-Abd in Egypt’s North Sinai region has left dozens dead, according to state media.(Curious Maps)

Cairo’s international airport boosted security following the attack, with more troopers and forces seen patrolling passenger halls, conducting searches and manning checkpoints at airport approaches.

Security forces have been battling militants in northern Sinai for years, but attacks to date have focused on military and police assets, although assassinations of individuals ISIS considers government spies or religious heretics are not uncommon.

Attacks on the rise

Hundreds of soldiers and militants have been killed in the conflict, although exact numbers are unclear as journalists and independent investigators are banned from the area.

Egypt is also facing a growing number of attacks by militants in its Western Desert, including an attack last month that killed 16 police, according to an official tally issued by the Interior Ministry. Security officials have told journalists that dozens more, including high-ranking counterterrorism officers, perished in the Oct. 20 attack some 135 kilometres southwest of the capital, Cairo.

State television said Egypt’s government has declared three days of mourning.

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