Trudeau condemns hotel attack that killed 26 including Somali-Canadian journalist

In a statement issued Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned an extremist attack in Somalia which killed 26, including a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist and her husband.

According to Somali officials, 43-year-old Hodan Nalayeh, a former Toronto-based journalist, and her husband Farid Jama Suleiman were staying at a hotel in the port city of Kismayo on Friday when gunmen stormed the building.

In the statement, Trudeau offered his condolences to Nalayeh’s loved ones.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Hodan Nalayeh, a Somali-Canadian journalist who, together with her husband Farid, was killed in the terrorist attack in Kismayo, Somalia,” he wrote. “Our thoughts are also with those who were injured or lost loved ones.”

He continued, “Canada strongly condemns this heinous attack, and will continue working with Somalia and other international partners to address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism.

“Together, we must create a safer, more peaceful world, where the media freedom so central to healthy democracies and strong societies can flourish.”

Somali officials said the attack began with a suicide car bomb blast before gunmen stormed the hotel.

Fifty-six people were also injured as a result of the incident.

Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamist rebels have since claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, expressed his grief on Twitter on Friday.

“Through her work as a journalist, Hodan highlighted the community’s positive stories and contributions in Canada. She became a voice for many,” Hussen wrote.

Nalayeh’s Integration TV program launched in 2014. During its run, she interviewed guests including former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne.

She was also the founder of the Somali Refugees Awareness Project, a non-profit organization that advocates for Somali refugees across the world.

“Ms. Nalayeh’s work showcased positive, uplifting, and inspiring Somali stories, and was a testament to the role of the free press in broadening people’s perspectives and defending diversity and inclusion,” Trudeau wrote in the statement on Sunday.

“Her loss is deeply felt in Canada, and in Somali and journalistic communities around the world.”

Nalayeh’s friends and family said she will be remembered as a good mother, loving wife, dependable friend and a storyteller.

“Everybody should try to emulate the type of life that she lived, which was follow your passion, love people and always look for the best in everyone,” said Ricardo McRae, a longtime friend of Nalayeh. “I love to see people bring their ideas to life and she was somebody that always took action, always followed through.”

Nalayeh is survived by two sons.

In a statement, Somali Journalists Syndicate confirmed another journalist Mohamed Omar Sahal, was also killed in the attack.

According to the group, Sahal is survived by his wife and four children.

“I am shocked and very saddened to learn the death of Hodan and Sahal. We lost two great journalists,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the group’s secretary general said wrote in a tweet. “This is the horror we live in.”

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