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Briton among 26 people killed in hotel terror attack in Somalia

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A Briton is among 26 people who died in a terror attack at a hotel in Somalia.

The attack started with a suicide car bomb blast outside the Asasey Hotel in Kismayo before gunmen stormed into the building on Friday evening.

Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic rebels have claimed responsibility.

The death toll has risen to 26, including Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians, Jubbaland region’s president Ahmed Mohamed said on Saturday.

A presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections was also killed in the attack, he added.

Police in Kismayo had earlier put the toll at 13.

Local elders and politicians were meeting at the hotel to discuss approaching regional elections at the time of the attack.

Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed that Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, died in the attack.

Security forces ended the overnight attack at 7am on Saturday in the southern port city hotel.

“The operation is over,” police officer Major Mohamed Abdi said from Kismayo. “Many people have been rescued. The four attackers were shot dead.”

Most of the victims were patrons of the hotel, which is often frequented by politicians and local officials, he said.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, general secretary of the Federation of Somali Journalists, said in a statement: “We are saddened and outraged by this loss of life, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling massacre.”

“I’m absolutely devastated by the news of the death of our dear sister Hodan Nalayeh and her husband in a terrorist attack in Somalia today.

“What a loss to us. Her beautiful spirit shined through her work and the way she treated people,” Omar Suleiman, a Texas-based imam who knew the victim, wrote on social media.

Ms Nalayeh was born in Somalia in 1976, but spent most of her life in Canada, first in Alberta and then in Toronto.

She founded Integration TV, an international web-based video production company aimed at Somali viewers around the world. She was the first Somali woman media owner in the world.

Al-Shabaab was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.