Somali forces have ended a 30-hour siege of a hotel in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, according to military officials, with security forces clearing explosives planted by fighters in the building.
At least 21 people were killed, and dozens were wounded in the siege, which began when fighters from the al-Shabab armed group unleashed a gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat Hotel on Friday evening.
“The Ministry of Health has so far confirmed the deaths of 21 people and 117 people wounded” in the assault that lasted more than a day, Health Minister Ali Haji Adan said on Sunday.
On Sunday morning, the area surrounding the hotel was quiet and the roads were blocked by a heavy security presence as emergency workers and bomb disposal experts sought to clear the premises of any explosives and remove rubble.
The hotel building sustained heavy damage during the gunfight between Somali forces and the fighters.
It caused some parts of it to collapse, leaving many people frantically searching for their loved ones who were inside when the attack began.
Police Commissioner Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijar told reporters on Sunday “106 people, including children and women”, were rescued by security forces during the siege which ended around midnight.
As bullets and flames ripped through the hotel, security forces searched the property to bring civilians to safety, including three young children who hid inside a toilet.
“The casualties mostly happened in the early hours of the attack, after that security forces spent time rescuing people individually and room by room,” Hijar said.