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Bombed hotel will open again soon, manager vows

By Hou Liqiang in Mogadishu, Somalia (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-08-03 07:35:57


After waiting about a day, we finally received permission to visit the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu on Wednesday.

A suicide bomber in a car rigged with explosives caused a blast there on July 26, killing at least 15 people, including a Chinese embassy security staff worker.

Bombed hotel will open again soon, manager vows

When we arrived, the scene was still one of chaos, with debris scatted everywhere. Almost the entire wall of one side of the hotel collapsed in the blast, leaving the steel beams in several pillars exposed.

Pieces of cloth could be seen clinging to the hotel's broken floors, swaying in the wind. Torn wire, sheet metal and steel bars were easily visible.

The shock wave from the explosion was so strong that even the top-floor windows on the far side of the hotel had been blown out. That was not the only damage to nearby buildings. Opposite the hotel, iron sheets were laid on the ground like pieces of hand-rubbed paper, scattered among the debris of concrete and metal.

There were two wheel hubs on the ground, which many people said were left from the car used by the bomber.

Abdimunim Moalim, operations manager at the Jazeera Palace Hotel tells me that the area around the hotel "where normal people live" had witnessed the most damage.

Standing on a road beside the hotel, I watched as a procession of armed men in various uniforms walked past, as well as some in civilian clothing. Some passed by in pickups, waving and giving me a thumbs-up.

Accompanying this "parade" was not music, however, but the nonstop noise from the machines being used to clean up and reconstruct the site. I had to shout to talk with the people around me.

Behind a temporary wall, which stretched as high as the hotel's first story, workers were busy removing debris, digging and moving around bags of cement and steel bars.

In just days, they have transformed the site of a terrorist attack into a bustling construction site.

"This explosion has happened. It was supposed to damage our business," Moalim said. "But I tell you, we will come up much stronger than ever before, and we will be operating as soon as possible."

One of the journalists in our team told me Moalim had even invited her to stay in the hotel free of charge.

Outside the canteen, I met Ali Mohamed Ahmed, a student who lives in the nearby village of Kaluunka. The 15-year-old said he was playing soccer with 11 friends when the attack happened.

He was eager to talk, but could speak only broken English. Over the noise of the reconstruction work, I heard only one sentence clearly: "When I am big, I want to protect my country."