Addis Ababa, August 20, 2022(Walta) – At least eight people have been confirmed dead after gunmen stormed a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, officials have said, following two car bomb blasts and gunfire.
“The security forces continued to neutralize terrorists who have been cordoned inside a room in the hotel building, most of the people were rescued but at least eight civilians were confirmed dead so far,” security official Mohamed Abdikadir told the AFP news agency on Saturday.
The al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attack – the first since the election of Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in May.
Gunmen stormed the Hotel Hayat frequented by government officials on Friday evening in a hail of gunfire and bomb blasts.
Sporadic gunfire and loud explosions could still be heard early on Saturday, as security forces continued to battle fighters holed up inside the popular hotel. It was unclear how many gunmen remained inside the hotel.
“The security forces rescued dozens of civilians including children who were trapped in the building safely,” Abdikadir said.
There was no immediate word on the identities of the victims, many of whom were injured.
A police officer, who only gave his name as Ahmed, earlier said that two car bombs had exploded – one at a barrier near the hotel and the other at the building’s gate. The assault triggered a fierce gunfight between security forces and the gunmen as they holed themselves up inside the building.
Dozens of people have been gathering outside the hotel to discover the fate of loved ones caught up inside.
“We have been looking for a relative of mine who was trapped inside the hotel, she was confirmed dead together with six other people, two of them I know,” witness Muudey Ali told AFP.