MOGADISHU • Somali security forces have brought to an end a bomb and gun attack by militants on a central Mogadishu hotel that killed at least 16 people and wounded 55, the authorities said.
The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack on the Hotel Ambassador. Two lawmakers were among the dead in the attack which ended yesterday with police shooting the assailants.
"So far, we have confirmed 16 people, mostly civilians, died and 55 others were injured," Major Nur Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters.
Another police officer, Major Farah Ali, told Reuters the hotel was now secure after the entire building was cleared of militants.
"National security forces are on every floor. The last fighter on the top roof (was) shot," Major Ali said.
An eye-witness told Reuters that a man on the hotel's top floor was crying out "please rescue me".
Another eye-witness saw the last fighter shot dead, his body falling to the ground from the fifth floor. Eight bodies lay in front of the hotel.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters it had lost three fighters in the hotel attack and killed 30 people. Death tolls given by Al-Shabaab are usually much higher than those given by officials.
One of the three fighters drove the car that rammed the hotel while the others stormed the hotel, Al-Shabaab said.
"We killed 30 apostates, including MPs and soldiers... The operation was victorious as planned," the spokesman said, adding that they had injured 60 during the assault.
The building was extensively damaged during the attack and government forces had blocked off all the main roads near the scene.
Al-Shabaab has been waging an insurgency in Somalia since 2006 in a bid to impose a strict version of Islamic law. An African Union mission helped the nation's forces drive the militants away from Mogadishu in 2011 and take over territory in the group's strongholds in the southern and central regions.
The attack came after the Somali authorities said they had killed Mohamed Dulyadeyn, an Al-Shabaab leader who neighbouring Kenya believes was the mastermind of an April 2015 attack on a university in the country that left 147 people dead.
Dulyadeyn was killed in an overnight assault on an Al-Shabaab stronghold in Bulo Gadud, a village 30km from the southern port of Kismayo, late on Tuesday, according to Mr Abdirashid Hassan Abdi, a regional security minister.
Separately, United States forces targeted Abdullahi Haji Da'ud, one of Al-Shabaab's most senior military planners and a coordinator of attacks in the region including in Kenya and Uganda, in an air strike on May 27, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Wednesday.