At least 12 people were killed after Al Shabaab militants attacked and took over the Hayat Hotel
A security guard patrols near the Hayat hotel in Mogadishu. —AFP
Somali forces have ended a deadly siege by al Shabaab militants at a hotel in the capital Mogadishu that lasted about 30 hours, a security commander told AFP around midnight on Saturday.
“The security forces have ended the siege now and the gunmen are dead, we have not had any shots coming from the building in the last hour,” the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the government would give a press briefing on the bloody attack. Sunday morning.
At least 12 people were killed when al-Qaeda-linked militants attacked the hotel.
The attackers made their way into the Hayat hotel on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire. Somali Al Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility.
“So far we have confirmed the deaths of 12 people, mostly civilians,” Mohammed, an intelligence officer who gave only one name, told Reuters.
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The gunmen were holding an unknown number of hostages on the building’s second floor, Mohammed said, preventing authorities from using heavy weapons.
They had also bombed the stairs to make it harder to get to certain floors, he said.
Among those fighting the militants inside the hotel are Gaashan, a paramilitary force specializing in counterinsurgency, said a former security official familiar with the force.
The detonations sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy intersection on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire crackled through the capital again on Saturday night.
Explosions were heard on Friday night as government forces attempted to retake control of the hotel from militants, witnesses said.
Large parts of the hotel were destroyed by the fighting, they said.
Friday’s attack was the first major such incident since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.
The United States condemned the attack and said it was unwavering in its “support for Somalia-led and African Union-led efforts to combat terrorism.”
“We express our sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones, wish a full recovery to those injured, and commend the Somali security forces,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Al Shabaab has been fighting for more than 10 years to overthrow the Somali government. He wants to establish his own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The Hayat Hotel is a popular venue with legislators and other government officials. There was no immediate information as to whether any of them had been caught in the siege.