Somali security forces have said they have regained control of a hotel in the capital Mogadishu after it was stormed by al-Shabaab militants on Friday evening.
At least 20 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in the deadly attack, when gunmen from the al-Qaeda-linked outfit stormed Hotel Hayat – a venue that is popular with Somali lawmakers.
Police commissioner Abdi Hassan Hijar said the siege ended around midnight on Sunday after Somalia’s elite armed forces had battled the gunmen for 30 hours. He also said security forces had rescued 106 hostages from the hotel.
However, the police have not yet given a detailed explanation of how the attack unfolded, and it remains unclear how many gunmen entered the hotel.
According to news reports, the attackers struck the hotel on Friday evening, detonating two car bombs. They then entered the facility, firing their guns, and seized control.
Ismail Abdi, the hotel’s manager, said the siege had ended but security forces were still working to clear the area.
No gunfire was heard after 9am local time on Sunday, and onlookers gathered outside the gates of the badly damaged hotel.
The fatal attack on Hotel Hayat marks the first major terror incident in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took over in May this year.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after it began, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors statements issued by jihadi groups.
Al-Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somalian government for more than a decade, and wants to establish its own government that would rule in accordance with a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned the attack, according to a statement from his spokesperson. Mr Guterres said that the UN supports the people of Somalia “in their fight against terrorism and their march towards peace”.