At least 12 people have been killed in an attack by Islamic militants who stormed a hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Several people were also injured and others, including children, had to be rescued by the security services of the Hayat hotel in Mogadishu.

Most of those who died are believed to be civilians.

The attack began with two car bombs, followed by gunfire around 4pm local time (6pm UK time) on Friday.

An ambulance service said it took nine injured people from the hotel, large parts of which were believed to have been destroyed.

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Security forces in the face of the attack surround a car

Gunshots were still heard early Saturday as security forces tried to contain the last militants, who were believed to be in the hotel.

It was unclear how many were left, having thought they were locked up on the top floor of the hotel.

Eyewitness Abdullahi Hussein told the AP: “We were having tea near the hotel lobby when we heard the first explosion followed by gunfire. I immediately rushed to the hotel rooms on the ground floor. floor and locked it.

“The militants went straight upstairs and started shooting. I was inside the room until the security forces arrived and rescued me.”

He said as he walked out of the resort he saw “several bodies lying on the floor outside the hotel reception”.

Al-Qaeda-related Al Shabaab claimed he was behind the attack.

The terrorist group has been fighting for more than 10 years to overthrow the Somali government, with the aim of establishing a state run on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Hayat Hotel is popular with politicians and other government officials.

Attack on Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu

According to the state-run Somali National News Agency, police were conducting an operation to stop the attack when it happened.

The agency said: “The unsung heroes of the Somali Police Special Unit have rescued many people from Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu as security forces deal with a terrorist incident.”

Friday’s attack is the first since new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

In August 2020, al Shabaab said it was behind an attack on another hotel in Mogadishu in which at least 16 people were killed.

At least 13 people died in an attack in Beledweyne in February.

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