Somali security forces ended the siege by al-Shabaab militants at Hayat hotel in Mogadishu late Saturday, 30 hours after it began. At least 13 civilians were killed and dozens wounded after the bomb and gun attack, according to officials.
“The security forces have ended the siege now and the gunmen are dead, we’ve had no incoming gunfire from the building in the past hour,” the commander told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He did not release details of how many people died on either side, but said the government would give details on Sunday.
The nearly-destroyed building needed to be cleared of possible explosives. Security forces had used heavy weapons late Saturday to rout out the al-Shabaab jihadists who were in the hotel for a second straight night. They claimed responsibility for the attack.
The hotel, a popular place to stay for Somali lawmakers, was filled with people with the siege began. Officials said dozens of people had been rescued, but did not indicate how many were still trapped at the end of the siege.
Somalia terror attack survivor: Abdirisak Mohamed says he has narrowly escaped the gunmen behind the Hayat hotel attack by running from them. Mohamed says Al Shabab attackers threw grenades at him as the militants were on their way into the hotel building in Mogadishu. pic.twitter.com/83Lx5RfFoa— Mohamed Abdikani (@Mo_Abdikani) August 20, 2022
A witness said that three children between the ages of four and seven were found by security forces in a hotel toilet, where they were hiding. Although in a state of shock, they were later reunited with their family.
Mogadishu’s main trauma hospital is treating at least 40 people wounded in the hotel attack as well as those hit in a separate mortar strike at the seaside, according to hospital director Mohamed Abdirahman Jama.
Others narrowly missed the carnage. Survivor Hussein Ali told AFP newswire that he and a group of colleagues were having tea in one of the hotel’s open spaces after performing evening prayers on Friday, the start of their weekend. They heard explosions.
“I managed to run to a nearby exit gate away from the gunmen,” Ali said.
“The gunmen started firing and I could hear the shots behind me, but thanks to God… we managed to escape.”
The United Nations and Somalia’s allies, including the United States, Britain and Turkey, strongly condemned the attack.
African Union force ATMIS, who are aiding Somali forces to take over primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024, also condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the Somali government.