A local man, who graduated from The Ohio State University in 2010, was among the 26 people killed in a deadly terrorist attack in Somalia on Friday after Islamic extremists blew up the gate of a Somali hotel with a car bomb and took over the building for more than 14 hours.
According to SADO, a nonprofit group that is a partner organization of Peace Direct based in Washington, D.C., their executive director, Abdullahi Isse Abdulle, was killed in the attack.
“Condolences to SADO Family! SADO Lost Executive Director Abdullahi Isse Abdulle in the attack that happened in Kismayo. May Allah gives him His blessings and rests his soul in peace,” SADO Somalia tweeted Saturday.
Abdullahi Isse Abdulle was among two Americans killed in the attack.
In addition, three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, and a Briton also were among the dead, said Ahmed Madobe, the president of Jubbaland regional state which controls Kismayo. Fifty-six people, including two Chinese, were injured in the hotel attack, he told reporters.
Abdirizak Ahmed, a friend of Abdulle, said Abdulle was aware of the risks of working in Somalia.
“It’s unfortunate that Somalia is going through a very difficult time, but Abdullahi and many of the Somalis who want back Somalia knew the risks, but they had a big heart,” Ahmed said. “The only way they can make change in Somalia is to sacrifice their lives.”
“Even though he’s gone, we have to keep his legacy alive,” Ahmed added.
At least four al-Shabab assailants attacked the Asasey Hotel Friday evening, beginning with a suicide car bomb at the entrance gate and followed by an assault by gunmen who stormed the hotel, which is frequented by politicians, patrons and lawmakers.
The attack lasted more than 14 hours before troops shot dead all attackers inside the hotel compound, Col. Abdiqadir Nur, a local police officer, told The Associated Press.
Jibril Mohamed, a Somali professor at The Ohio State University, released the following statement to NBC4 on Sunday:
“… Abdullahi Isse (Deeq) was an important member of the Somali community in Ohio. He was also a leading provider of humanitarian aide and community development services in Southern Somalia.
Everywhere he went, people liked him because he was there to help. While in Ohio, he supported new immigrants find jobs, communicate with healthcare providers and become part of the fabric of their new community. He went back to Somalia to give people access to clean water, to promote civic education and implement peace building initiatives.
The Somali community is mourning the loss of Abdullahi and 25 others including Hodan Nalayah who was a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist to a terrorist attack in Kismayo, Somalia. The Somali community wants the US government to continue supporting the Federal Government of Somalia until the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for this attack is defeated.”
Peace Direct offered condolences to friends and family of Abdullahi Isse Abdulle in multiple tweets on Friday.
Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, often uses car bombs to infiltrate heavily fortified targets like the hotel in Kismayo, which has been relatively quiet in recent years.
The attack is a blow to the Somalia government’s efforts to hold nation-wide, one-person one-vote elections next year.
Security officials cordoned off the site of the attack and prevented journalists from taking photos or video of the damaged hotel and in some cases destroyed journalists’ cameras. Government officials have not been available for further interviews.
Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, died in the attack, Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed to AP.
“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.
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.
Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen mourned Hodan Nalayeh’s death on Twitter, saying she “highlighted the community’s positive stories and contributions in Canada” through her work as a journalist. “We mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the #KismayoAttack,” he wrote.
Nalayeh’s endless “positivity” and “love for people” was inspiring, said Canada’s New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath on Twitter.
“In Ontario, Hodan launched @IntegrationTV to tell the beautiful stories of the Somali Diaspora, and took that same humanity and love to her reporting and storytelling in Somalia. My thoughts are with her family, and the victims of the #Kismayo attack during this horrific time.”
A top official of the African Union condemned the attack.
“This is an attack meant to derail progress in Somalia as the country rebuilds and consolidates the gains made on peace and security,” said Francisco Madeira, special representative of the chairman of the African Union Commission. “Somalia has made tremendous progress in seizing territory and pushing out the terrorists from many places across the country.”
He said the African Union’s multinational force in Somalia will continue to work to stabilize the country.
AP journalist Natalie Schachar contributed from Mexico City.
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