Sunday August 21, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) - Somali forces have killed the remaining Al-Shabab gunmen who stormed a Mogadishu hotel, ending a 30-hour deadly siege late Saturday evening.The unnamed official did not provide additional information on the casualties' total number or identities of the victims.
"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.
However, residents reported hearing sporadic gunfire into Sunday morning despite officials declaring all attackers dead.
The siege, which began when Al Shabaab fighters launched a bomb attack on the well-known Hayat Hotel on Friday evening, resulted in at least 30 civilian deaths and 50 injuries, according to security and ambulance officials.
Specialized security forces, including Alpha Group and Cheetah (Haramcad), used heavy artillery and explosives to flush out the remaining Al Shabaab fighters.
A police official said that the militants used the hotel guests as "human shields".
Ali Haji, Somalia's minister of health said that 21 people had been confirmed dead, but hospital officials and first responders expect it to be higher. They also expect the death toll to rise as bodies are pulled from the debris and rooftop. He added that only the bodies brought to the hospital have been recorded in the official tally.
"It is possible there were corpses that were not taken to hospitals but buried by relatives. The death toll and the casualties are based on the figure taken to hospitals," the minister added.
Over 106 guests were rescued from the hotel during the two-day siege, according to security officials.
Security forces on Sunday morning were working to clear any remnants of explosives from the hotel, which was nearly destroyed.
The Hayat, located near the KM4 roundabout, is a popular hangout for civilians, federal government civil servants and members of the political establishment.
"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.The unnamed official did not provide additional information on the casualties' total number or identities of the victims.
The international community roundly condemned Al Shabaab on Saturday and sent their condolences to the victims.
In a statement to the group's media affiliates, the armed group claimed to have held hostages during the siege, including government and security officials.
While officials said dozens of hotel guests had been rescued, including children, it is unclear how many were still inside when the siege ended.
Friday's attack was the first significant attack on a soft target in Mogadishu since Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in late May.
The US has recently conducted several air raids on militants, including an air strike that killed 13 Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia's central-southern region.
Last month, Mohamud stated that defeating the Islamist insurgency would necessitate more than just a military approach, and he proposed the unprecedented idea of direct talks with Al Shabaab.
*A previous version of this article cited the death toll at 20, and injuries at 40*