Security officials have disclosed that no fewer than 10 people have been confirmed dead after al-Shabab militants reportedly stormed a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Friday night.
Police narrated that attackers had detonated two explosives just outside the hotel before entering the building and opening fire.
They were said to have earlier holed themselves up on the top floor of the Hotel Hayat, hours after the attack began.
Africa Today News, New York can confirm that a special police unit has been dispatched to rescue dozens of guests and staff from the hotel.
‘The security forces continued to neutralise 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,’ said an official, Mohamed Abdikadir.
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Africa Today News, New York reports that earlier, a website affiliated to al-Shabab said a group of militants had ‘forcibly entered” the hotel and were “carrying out random shooting’.
The Hayat is described as a popular location for employees of the federal government to meet.
Nine people were injured and carried away from the hotel, the head of Mogadishu’s Aamin ambulance services, Abdikadir Abdirahman told Reuters news agency earlier.
Unverified images circulating on social media appeared to show smoke billowing from the hotel while shouting and loud bangs can be heard.
“Two car bombs targeted Hotel Hayat,” a police officer told the Reuters news agency in a statement. “One hit a barrier near the hotel, and then the other hit the gate of the hotel. We believe the fighters are inside the hotel.”
An affiliate of al-Qaeda, al-Shabab has engaged in a long-running conflict with the federal government.
The group controls much of southern and central Somalia but has been able to extend its influence into areas controlled by the government based in Mogadishu.
In recent weeks fighters affiliated with the group have also attacked targets along the Somalia-Ethiopia border, which has raised concerns about a possible new strategy by al-Shabab.
The attack on Friday marks the first in the capital by the group since Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was elected in May.