Al Shabaab Rebels
Al Shabaab Rebels

By Ogbolu George with agency report

Al-Shabaab rebels struck a hotel in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia early Wednesday, killing four guards, while lawmakers begin voting in the countries presidential elections.

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The threat from Islamist rebels, who regularly launch attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere, and the inability of the government to provide adequate security for adult voters at polling units made the lawmakers take over the voting process.

Several blasts, probably from mortar bombs, echoed across the seaside capital Mogadishu late on Tuesday. But there were no reports of casualties in the city, which had been subject to a security lock-down in the build up to the vote.

Somali lawmakers had gathered behind the blast walls of the capital’s airport to elect their president, after months of delays.

The airport, where the vote is taking place, is guarded by the African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM) and is surrounded by high concrete barriers to protect it from attack.

Reports of tens of thousands of dollars being handed to individuals to secure votes has characterized the election in the country.

International donors, have often criticized President Mohamud, the Somalian president for corruption, saying that though the election is not perfect but its a step forward in the right direction.