MOGADISHU - Somali security forces shot dead five Al Shabaab gunmen, who had killed three civilians and two soldiers during an attack on a hotel near the presidential residence in Mogadishu on Tuesday night, police said early on Wednesday. Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked Islamist militant group, frequently launches bombing and gun raids in Mogadishu in a bid to topple Somalia’s U.N.-backed government. The group confirmed last night it had attacked the Syl hotel, a popular gathering place for officials and lawmakers. The latest attack started at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday and ended at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, when all five attackers had been killed, deputy police commissioner General Zakia Hussen said in a statement on Twitter. “The security forces ended the operation. Five people including three civilians and two soldiers died in the attack,” Hussen said. “Eleven others were slightly injured, including nine civilians and two soldiers,” she added. Hussen had said on Tuesday night that 82 people, including several officials, had been rescued from the Syl hotel. Security officers had initially mistook the gunmen for the police, until they began shooting and throwing grenades, another police officer said on Tuesday. Bullet holes are seen around the windows of the SYL hotel after fighting between Somali security forces and Al Shabaab gunmen, who lunched an attack on the hotel near the presidential residence in Mogadishu, Somalia December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar Al Shabaab’s military spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab said on Tuesday that the group’s fighters were behind the attack at the hotel compound near the presidential palace.

Iran will bypass US sanctions through talks: Rouhani

DUBAI - Iran will overcome U.S. sanctions by either bypassing them or through negotiations, and it will not cross its red lines in any talks with arch-adversary Washington, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. Tensions have soared between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that have crippled its oil-based economy. The Islamic Republic has rejected negotiating a new deal with the Trump administration, saying talks are only possible if Washington returns to the nuclear pact and lifts sanctions. “The government is determined to defeat (the enemy) by bypassing America’s sanctions...or through various means including talks, but we will not cross our red lines,” the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Rouhani as saying. In a rare act of cooperation between Tehran and Washington, the United States and Iran each freed a prisoner on Saturday. Washington said it was hopeful that the prisoner swap would lead to the release of other Americans held in Iran and that it was a sign Tehran was willing to discuss other issues.