At least fourteen have died as gunmen linked to al Shabab group stormed a hotel in Somalia
At least 14 people were killed when gunmen stormed a hotel in Somalia's capital and took an unknown number of hotel guests hostage, police and medical workers said on Saturday.
Security forces hunted down the attackers and ended an hours-long assault that began with an explosives-laden vehicle blowing up at the hotel gate, a police official.
Islamic extremist group al Shabab claimed responsibility for the latest in a series of hotel attacks in Mogadishu.
"We have finally ended the siege. The last remaining militants were killed on the top floor," police Captain Mohamed Hussein said after security forces pursued the gunmen who had retreated to upper floors of the Nasa-Hablod hotel, setting up sniper posts on the roof and throwing grenades. Police said at least four gunmen were involved in the attack.
"We have so far confirmed the deaths of 14 people. Some of them died in the hospitals," Capt Hussein said. The deaths included women who were selling khat, a stimulant leaf popular with Somali men, outside the hotel, he said.
Capt Hussein said security forces killed two of the attackers. Police and medical workers said another nine people were wounded in the assault.
Police said the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the hotel entrance, ripping off its gate. Gunmen fought their way inside, and a witness said they began shooting randomly at hotel guests.
Blood was splattered on the hotel floor. The bodies of two men, including one thought to be a hotel guard and an attacker dressed in a military uniform, lay on the first floor.
Bullets pockmarked the hotel walls. Security forces combed through the dark hotel rooms, searching for explosives.
A witness, Ali Mohamud, said the attackers randomly shot at guests. "They were shooting at everyone they could see. I escaped through the back door," he said.
The Somalia-based, al Qaida-linked al Shabab has been waging a deadly insurgency across large parts of Somalia and often employs suicide car bomb attacks to penetrate heavily fortified targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere.