At least 26 people have been killed in an extremist attack in Somalia including a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist and her husband.
Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan confirmed to The Associated Press that Hodan Nalayeh and Farid Jama Suleiman died in the attack Friday.
A Somali official says the attack started with a suicide car bomb blast and then gunmen stormed a hotel in the port city of Kismayo. The official says those killed include one Canadian, one Briton two Americans three Kenyans and three Tanzanians. Fifty-six people, including two Chinese, were also injured in the attack.
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Global Affairs Canada has not confirmed the deaths but says it is aware of a bombing in Somalia and is working to get more information.
Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, expressed his grief on Twitter.
He says through her work as a journalist, Hodan highlighted the (Somali) community’s positive stories and contributions in Canada.
“She became a voice for many,” said Hussen, who is also the former national president of the Canadian Somali Congress.
“We mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the #KismayoAttack.”
WATCH: Official says they’re ‘saddened’ over attack in Somalia
Nalayeh was born in Somalia in 1976, but spent most of her life in Canada, first in Edmonton and then in Toronto.
The Somali Journalists Syndicate says Naleyeh was the producer, presenter and founder of Integration TV.
It says she had recently returned to Somalia from Canada, where she attended school and worked as a journalist on TV programs in Toronto.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she is sad and shocked to hear about her death.
“I am so sad and shocked to learn of the tragic death of ?HodanTV and her husband Farid in a terrorist attack, along with other victims of this hate-fuelled violence,” Horwath said on Twitter.
“Hodan’s endless positivity and her love for people was inspiring.”
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.
Nalayeh was the mother of two boys.
On one of her social media accounts she described herself as: “Mom. Optimist. Journalist. TV Host.”
“Passionate about sharing #Somali stories.”
Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.