Saturday, June 25, 2016
A view of the Nasahablod Hotel, destroyed after a bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, June 25, 2016. A Somali police officer says a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of a hotel in Mogadishu followed by gunmen who were fighting their way into the hotel..(AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
MOGADISHI (HOL) - A suicide car bomb and armed standoff between Somali security forces and members of Al Shabab ended with the death toll of at least 17.
"We have finally ended the siege. The last remaining militants were killed on the top floor," police Captain Mohamed Hussein said.
According to senior police officer General Abdullahi Barise the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden truck outside the gates of Naso-Hablod One hotel, killing five civilians and one hotel guard before armed fighters stormed the hotel.
Ali Mohamud, a witness to the attack said the assailants, armed with machine guns fought their way inside and began shooting indiscriminately at guests. “They were shooting at everyone they could see. I escaped through the back door,” he said.
After the attackers stormed the hotel, police and witnesses say they took an unknown number of hostages before making their way to the roof where they set up sniper positions and lobbed grenades. Security forces pursued the militants to the top floor and ended the multi-hour standoff.
Police said that at least 17 people have been killed with as many as 25 others wounded. They added that at least four militants were involved in the assault.
Security forces said to have rescued most of the hostages; although it is not yet clear if any were killed during the operation.
Naso Habdlod One is popular with government officials, aid workers and foreigners.
Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the latest hotel attack.
"We attacked the hotel which was frequented by the apostate government members," al Shabab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters, adding that the group's fighters were inside the building.
Al Shabab reported the death toll to be 20 guards and civilians.
This attack comes while Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramadan. Al Shabab has been known to step up attacks during this time.
On June 1, Al Shabab militants carried out a similar assault on the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu killing at least 16 people and wounding an additional 55.
Somali and AMISOM forces are currently fighting the extremist group in multiple areas across the country.
(With files from AP, Reuters)