08 July, 2022 Hotel Attacks
So far, 2022 has seen a wide array of global hotel violence. Given that hotels are the world’s most violent commercial sector, this is no surprise. The following hotel violence cases presented here demonstrate the threat picture. They come from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Turkey, Myanmar, Colombia, Guadeloupe, France, the US, Mexico, and Ukraine. The risk categories cover terrorism, strikes/riots/civil commotion (SRCC,) violent crime, and war. The perils include bombings, attempted assassinations by armed hit teams, shootings, violent protests, flares/pyrotechnics, vandalism, raids (like the 2008 Mumbai attacks,) and missile strikes. Muir Analytics warned that some of these attacks would occur via a briefing in October 2021 (Stephen Barth’s Hospitality Law Conference) and in written articles in February and March this year.
On 27 February at 9:30 pm (some reporting said 9:00 pm and 9:45 pm,) an IED exploded at the Dorino Hotel in Kaduna, says National Insight News. The Dorino Hotel is best described as a tin-roofed, cinder-blocked beer hall hotel. Pictures of the hotel show that the explosion blew a three-foot-by-three-foot hole in the hotel’s wall, peeled back two roof panels, and displaced three more. The hotel’s drainage system was also damaged. No one was in the establishment at the time, and there were no casualties. The Eagle Online says police found another IED at a nearby sports bar, the Larry Breeze Bar, where football/soccer fans were watching a match.
Vatican News reports that Kaduna suffered more attacks afterward, such as June raids that targeted Catholic and Baptist churches where the assailants killed several and kidnapped 30. While the culprits are unknown, the targeting patterns here – hospitality and churches – suggest Islamist jihadists such as Boko Haram or nomadic Fulani herders who have been responsible for anti-farmer and anti-Christian violence in Nigeria for years.
On 20 April at 10:00 pm, Boko Haram fighters raided Geidam town, attacking scores of targets, including a hotel, says the Daily Trust. They approached the town on foot, infiltrating it stealthily so as not to alert nearby soldiers. After detaining scores of villagers, the attackers reportedly forced many to recite verses from the Koran, releasing those who did and killing those who didn’t. Punch reports the attackers also went to the Kwari, a beer hall-hotel where prostitution was allegedly common, and, using knives, slaughtered 10 people – men and women. Before they left, they set a technical school on fire.
On the night of 24 April, orthodox Easter, terrorists triggered an explosion in a hotel in Ethiopia. It’s been reported as either the Itegue Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, indicates The East African, or the Yod hotel in Harar, as reported by ReliefWeb. Nearly every source reporting on the bombing showed a picture of the Itegue Taitu Hotel, which is in Addis Ababa. The Itegue did suffer a fire, cause unknown, in 2015, and pictures in the press might be from that event. While ReliefWeb offered few details on the attack, it said it resulted from a grenade, not a bomb. Whichever it was, physical damages are unknown, but all sources say eight were injured.
While the culprits were unknown, the government made a point to say, right on the heels of the hotel attack, that it had arrested a 34-person cell of the Somalia-based al Shabaab terror group. It is not clear if they were Ethiopian or Somalian citizens. They had with them a cache of light infantry weapons: Assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, and ammunition. The East African reports they had also set up bank accounts and received funding from al-Shabaab networks in Kenya, Somaliland, and the US – Minnesota, to be precise.
In late May 2022, Iranian assassins deployed to several hotels in Istanbul, Turkey, to ambush and murder Israeli citizens, says Al Arabiya. Details on the exact date and hotels in question were not released. But it is apparent these hit teams were indeed in place and armed because the Israeli government sent multiple security agents to Istanbul to A) personally locate the at-risk tourists, and then B) escort them directly to the airport to fly back to Israel. They did not return to their hotels to collect their belongings, so Tel Aviv had high confidence in its intelligence. Knowing the Israelis, they either had eyes on the assassination teams, or were listening to their communications.
The hotel ambush plot was revenge for the apparent Israeli assassination of a top officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Colonel Sayad Khodai. Motorcycle gunmen killed him on 22 May in Tehran. Colonel Khodai was a senior official in the IRGC’s Quds Force Unit 840, which is responsible for overseas paramilitary operations. The Jerusalem Post reports that Iran blamed Israel and the US for the attacks and vowed revenge, hence the plot to kill Israeli citizens in Istanbul.
On 3 March at 8:00 am, a groundskeeper at the Hilton Mandalay in Myanmar found a pink box under a tree along a sidewalk in the hotel’s side parking area, reports Eleven Myanmar. The hotel is 20 feet from the sidewalk. A low, ornate fence line parallels the sidewalk. The hotel called security forces, and they confirmed there was an explosive device in the box. As they were observing it from a distance, it exploded. The blast damaged a four-foot section of the sidewalk and shattered two of the hotel’s windows. No injuries were reported.
Myanmar has suffered from a civil war since September 2021, when an organization called the People’s Defense Force (PDF) under the National Unity Government began a military offensive to take back control of the country from a 1 February 2021 military coup. PDF forces have staged light infantry attacks against the coup government and assassinated scores of government personnel.
While the Hilton bomb culprits could have been anybody, the Eden Group, a Myanmar company, is Hilton’s partner there in Mandalay. Chit Khine, its owner, has ties to the military government, and PDF forces might have deployed the bomb to intimidate him.
*If the PDF was responsible for this attack, despite its goals for a return to democracy, the bombing of a civilian target for political reasons can be categorized as a terrorist act.
On 10 May at 10:30 am on Isla de Barú, El Pais reports that two jet ski-borne assassins drove up to the beach at the four-star Decameron Barú hotel, jumped ashore, walked over to Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci, and shot him in the face and the back, killing him. He was on vacation with his wife at the time. She escaped unharmed. The assassins also shot at a security guard, but he wasn’t hit. The attackers then egressed on the same jet ski. Pecci was a high-profile prosecutor who had made his reputation jailing organized criminals, drug traffickers, money launderers, and terrorists.
With regional and international help, Colombian authorities identified the culprits and arrested them. They were a six-member hit squad of the Brazilian prison gang, First Capital Command, says the BBC. First Capital is a major cocaine trafficking group. Four of the assassins were captured, and two remain on the run. California 18 says investigators believe the hit might have been paid for by international drug traffickers or Libyan-based terrorists using First Capital as muscle. Investigators are still following leads.
In November 2021, reports Express, violent riots in Guadeloupe between pro-and anti-Covid-19 vaccine protesters trapped a British film crew in the four-star Arawak Beach Resort, forcing them to shelter in place from the carnage outside. The crew was filming the TV show, “Death in Paradise.”
Outside the hotel, there was pandemonium. The Sun says rioters attacked and looted stores, set up scores of bonfire roadblocks, damaged several power stations, torched cars and a police station, and threw Molotov cocktails at police in street combat. ABC News says the government deployed 200 special forces troops to help quell the violence because intelligence said rioters had stolen rifles, possibly from the torched police station. A curfew was enacted.
France 24 says hotel cancelations all over Guadeloupe skyrocketed, and tourists who were trapped in their respective hotels were impacted by a shortage of staffers who, because of the riots, couldn’t get to work.
On 7 April, crowds of Marseille football (soccer) team fans attacked their Greek rivals, fans of the PAOK team, at two hotels in Marseille, and possibly a third. It was a chaotic time, and reporting on the violence was uneven.
The attacks occurred before the Marseille vs. PAOK UEFA Conference League match. At one hotel, the l’hôtel Tokyo Inn, a video showed what appeared to be a platoon of angry PAOK fans trying to force their way out of the hotel to take on their French rivals in a street battle. At the same time, riot police kept them in by sheer manpower and riot grenades. The Greek fans reportedly vandalized the hotel.
A video posted on Twitter also shows a group of five Marseille fans shooting a hailstorm of paintballs at the l’hôtel Tokyo Inn from a rooftop across the street.
The Daily Star also reports Marseille fans firing flares into an unnamed hotel where 40 PAOK fans were staying, damaging the entrance. Fans of both teams at this hotel suffered minor injuries. California 18 reports that riot police were deployed. They chased off many attackers and arrested others. They then set up a defensive perimeter around the hotel.
The US has the world’s most violent hotel sector. It is an epidemic of national proportions. While Muir Analytics is still synthesizing US hotel violence for late 2021 and 2022, preliminary analysis indicates it has increased as of late. Typically, Muir records between 30 and 40+ significant acts of hotel violence in the US each month. Sometimes, it can get into the low 50s. But for December 2021, it spiked to 79. January 2022 had 60. February had 57, and March had 63. Since then, hotel violence frequency has returned to normal, but again, it will be some months before Muir can get a more solid read on these numbers.
December 2021 saw the following types of violence at US hotels:
Common reasons for US hotel violence include, but are not limited to, drug deals gone wrong, prostitution deals gone wrong, and anger/mental issues, among many others. Most shootings are done by career criminals, many of whom are ex-felons who are not allowed to possess firearms, and they are certainly not allowed to deal drugs. Firearms laws mean nothing to them. Drug laws mean nothing to them. These acts of violence happen at a range of hotel brands and star ratings – it’s not just the budget hotels and the two-star properties.
On 28 June, at 4:45 pm at the Siesta Inn in El Monte, California (a budget hotel near Los Angeles,) police were doing a welfare check on a woman who had reportedly been stabbed in a room, says WNYT News. When police arrived at the hotel room in question, ex-felon Justin William Flores opened fire on the two officers. They fired back, and the gunfight spilled into the parking lot. Both officers were hit and died of their wounds. Flores was also killed.
Flores was a violent felon who had served time for vehicle theft and burglary. In March 2020, police arrested him for being a felon in possession of a firearm and narcotics. The firearm charge could have jailed him for three years, but he was instead sentenced to two years of probation and 20 days in jail based on lax prosecution policies under LA County District Attorney George Gascón.
On 27 January, at 3:30 am in Washington, DC, a male teenager tried to force his way into a hotel room at the two-star Days Inn by Wyndham Washington DC/Connecticut Avenue, says NBC Washington. His girlfriend was there at a birthday party along with about 12 others. He suspected she was cheating on him. Those inside denied him entry, so he drew a pistol and opened fire, killing one female and injuring four. Two of the injured had non-life-threatening wounds, and the other two had life-threatening wounds. Police later arrested the shooter.
On 23 May at 10:00 pm, says The Sun, 15 hooded gunmen raided the Gala Hotel and its bar in Celaya, Mexico (Guanajuato state.) (Some reporting says they also shot up a bar across the street.) The Gala appears to be a local budget hotel tucked away on a side street of Celaya. The attackers arrived in two trucks, got out, and fired a hail of bullets at people in the hotel and its bar for about a minute. Afterward, they threw Molotov cocktails at the venue, setting it alight, says Newsweek.
The attackers killed 11 and wounded five. The dead included hotel and bar staff. Some people reportedly escaped the carnage by hiding deeper in the hotel.
Guanajuato is currently one of the most violent states in Mexico due to a dispute between the Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco New Generation cartels, says France 24.
The Daily Mail reports the attackers belonged to the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel that were targeting members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. After the attack, they left behind a handwritten cardboard sign that said, “This happened to me for supporting those f****** Jaliscans and for being involved with the three bodies in the bag.” The “bodies in the bag” statement referred to a bag of three bodies found in the streets of Celaya hours before the Gala Hotel raid.
On 20 June, reports The Sun, knife-wielding assassins entered the three-star Oasis 12 By Select hotel in the heart of Playa del Carmen, attacked and injured a security guard, and then assaulted a Canadian couple in their room. Police found them with their throats slit. The male victim was wanted internationally by INTERPOL for fraud and had three different types of identification, each with a different name, reports CBS. The culprits are unknown. The victim’s background demonstrates high-risk criminal behavior, and his killers could have been victims of his fraud, or drug dealers, or criminal extortionists. The latter two groups are common in Playa del Carmen and have been responsible for scores of high-profile and grisly murders of both locals and foreigners in the past 12 months.
On 13 March, as Russia’s war on Ukraine pressed on, a Russian missile hit the historic Hotel Ukraine (aka, Hotel Ukraina) in Chernihiv, destroying it, reports the C Boarding Group. The hotel was a large, five-story, three-star property. Chernihiv is 100 miles north northeast of Kyiv.
Photographs show the explosion massively cratered the top of the hotel, and scores of windows and doors were blown out, indicating the ordnance detonated inside the building. It was a total loss. Russian-friendly social media says foreign fighters supporting Ukraine were using the hotel as a headquarters.
On 9 May at 10:30 pm, the Free Press Journal says the Russian military launched three missiles, possibly Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missiles, against Odessa. One of the missiles hit the Grande Pettine Hotel, a four-star beachfront property. It was reportedly popular with Russians as well as locals. No one was in the hotel at the time, so there were no injuries.
Photographs of the damage posted by UKRinform compared to overhead satellite imagery of the property demonstrate the missile hit and destroyed a 60-foot section of the northern portion of the 900-foot-long hotel. Windows and doors on either side of the detonation point were blown out. The rest of the hotel seemed intact and is presumed functional.
First, the fact that Muir Analytics successfully predicted, from a strategic perspective, hotel violence in the US, Africa, Mexico, and Ukraine means its database of hotel violence and analytical methods are viable. Hotel security, insurance companies/brokers, underwriters, governments, and other risk mitigators can use it to positive effect. Muir continues to stand by its 2022 hotel threat assessment posted here.
Second, also as Muir predicted in October 2022, Islamist jihadists have continued to see hotels as one of their primary target sets. This trend will continue in Africa and elsewhere around the world, including in the West.
As an aside, while the hotels profiled here were small and rural, they still serve as a warning for the larger, more monied hotels in Africa and elsewhere. Islamist jihadists attack hotels all over the world for the same reasons, and they use the same tactics, no matter how pricey (or not) they are.
Third, if the Ethiopian government was correct in suggesting that an al Shabaab cell was behind the bombing of an Ethiopian hotel on orthodox Easter, then it is an indicator that this Somalia-based group might be expanding into Ethiopia and possibly other parts of Africa. Muir previously reported on a failed 2019 hotel attack in Ethiopia by al Shabaab here. These activities suggest al Shabaab, or an Islamist jihadist terror network the government is calling al Shabaab, is active in Ethiopia. As a result, hotels will be at risk there for the foreseeable future. Al Shabaab specializes in hotel attacks.
Third, the Iranian penchant for revenge operations against Israel, the US, and other nations that are involved in neutralizing Tehran’s influence and security personnel will endure. As a result, Iran will continue to target its enemies at hotels and other venues where they are deemed vulnerable.
Fourth, the Mandalay Hilton bombing is an indicator that civilian targets, including hotels, will remain at risk as long as Myanmar’s war continues. Having said this, the PDF is not known for punishing terrorist attacks against civilian targets. It does not fit their current doctrine or targeting regimen. The PDF is unlikely to carry out such an Islamist jihadist-style operation on a hotel unless it was an ideal opportunity to strike Myanmar government personnel or government-connected VIPs.
Fifth, the First Capital Command attack in Colombia was effective, it demonstrated a level of sophistication, and it required audacity. It also required up-to-the-minute intelligence, a reasonably sophisticated operational planning cell, logistics, precise force application (a highly controlled killing), and good command and control between Paraguay and Colombia. The same group, or others with similar capabilities, replicating this type of operation at hotels or other vacation/travel venues, cannot be ruled out.
Sixth, the SRCC events in Guadeloupe and Marseille demonstrate that violent riots can occur quickly and without warning anywhere political, social, or even sports friction might arise. Hotels can be directly and indirectly impacted by such events at the whim of the rioters. Damages can be just financial or both physical and financial.
Seventh, hotel violence in the US is a national epidemic, and as long as drugs continue to flow into the country unabated, and as long as prosecutors ease back on prosecuting violent and/or repeat offenders, hotel violence will not subside. It might worsen from time to time, as the December 2021 data demonstrates. Hotels that allow the circumstances for trending criminal behavior also contribute to this national problem.
Eighth, as long as Mexico’s cartel and gang wars continue, its hotels will remain at risk. Muir stands by its November 2021 Mexico threat assessment posted here.
Ninth, as long as violent conditions reign in Ukraine, the Russians will continue to attack hotels, among other civilian targets. Because military ordnance is so destructive, partial and total loss hotel attack scenarios will continue in Ukraine into the foreseeable future. Additionally, if the war intensifies, hotels and other civilian venues in Eastern and Central Europe will increasingly be under threat. Muir stands by its 2022 Ukraine/Europe threat assessment posted here.
Muir Analytics runs the world’s largest, most sophisticated hotel violence database – the SecureHotel Threat Portal – with over 2,000 hotel attacks (and growing.) We can provide the hospitality sector, underwriters, brokers, and governments with intelligence that facilitates full-spectrum risk reduction, which helps hotels protect guests, staff, buildings, brands, and revenues. Contact us for a consultation: 1-833-DATA-444.
“Bodies of slain Canadian couple found in Mexican resort city,” CBS News, 21 June 2022.
“Nigeria: Three killed in attacks on two churches in Kaduna,” Vatican News, 20 June 2022.
“Marcelo Pecci: Killers who shot Paraguayan prosecutor on honeymoon convicted,” BBC, 18 June 2022.
“Wife says she tried to warn police before deadly shooting,” WNYT Channel 13, 16 June 2022.
“Who is who in the criminal network that led to the murder of prosecutor Marcelo Pecci,” California 18, 7 June 2022.
“Six dead in armed attack on Mexican high school students,” France 24, 7 June 2022.
“Celaya Massacre: Mexican hotel shooting leaves 11 dead and five injured,” Independent, 24 May 2022.
“Mexico Hotel Massacre as 11 People Shot to Death in Celaya,” Newsweek, 24 May 2022.
“Iran buries slain Revolutionary Guard colonel, vows revenge,” Jerusalem Post, 24 May 2022.
“Ethiopia Peace Observatory Weekly: 23 April-6 May 2022 [EN/AM],” Relief Web, 12 May 2022.
“Police search for killers of anti-drug prosecutor shot while honeymooning on Colombia beach,” El Pais, 11 May 2022.
“After Victory Day, Russian missiles slam into Ukraine port city of Odessa,” Free Press Journal, 10 May 2022.
“Odesa hotel on the coast ‘demilitarized’ in Russia’s missile strike,” UKRinform, 9 May 2022.
“Israelis in Turkey were saved before ‘Iran’s assassins’ could attack at hotel: Report,” Al Arabiya, 5 May 2022.
“Ethiopia arrests four over hotel bomb attack,” The East African, 27 April 2022.
“Terrorists kill 10 in Yobe drinking joint,” Punch, 22 April 2022.
“Boko Haram kills hotel guests in Yobe, sets school ablaze,” Daily Trust, 21 April 2022.
“Marseille and PAOK fans ‘battle’ after flares thrown into hotel as riot police step in,” Daily Star, 7 April 2022.
“Marseille: an OM supporter and two PAOK supporters arrested after clashes,” California 18, 7 April 2022.
Sam Street @samstreetwrites, 7 April 2022, Marseille ultras attacking PAOK fans with paintball guns outside their hotel last night, [Tweet], Twitter, https://twitter.com/samstreetwrites/status/1512204524047540230?lang=en
“‘They’ll riot!’ Death In Paradise star Ralf Little left trapped in hotel after civil unrest,” Express, 15 March 2022.
“Historic Hotel Ukraine destroyed by Russian attacks overnight,” The C Boarding Group, 13 March 2022.
“Homemade bomb explodes in front of Hilton Hotel in Mandalay,” Eleven Myanmar, 4 March 2022.
“Kaduna police confirms bomb explosion in Kabala west, another attempt in Romi,” National Insight News, 2 March 2022.
“Police give update on Kaduna hotel explosion, detonation of IED inside bar,” The Eagle Online, 2 March 2022.
“18-year-old arrested, charged with killing woman in DC Days Inn: Police,” NBC Washington, 19 February 2022.
“TV PARADISE HELL Death in Paradise stars caught up in rioting on Caribbean island where BBC show is filmed,” The Sun, 1 December 2021.
“Tourism in Guadeloupe suffers as Covid-19 protests rage,” France 24 English, 24 November 2021.
“‘I lost everything’: Guadeloupe riots overtake COVID protest,” ABC News, 21 November 2021.
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