Al Shabab militants stormed Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 20 people and injuring 40 others, engaging in an hours-long exchange of fire with Somalia's security forces.
At least 20 civilians have been confirmed dead in an attack by militants on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab group stormed the popular Hayat Hotel in a hail of gunfire and bomb blasts on Friday evening.
Sporadic gunfire and loud explosions could still be heard early on Saturday, many hours after the start of the assault.
In addition, at least 40 people were wounded in the attack and security forces rescued many others, including children, from the scene, they said.
Mohamed Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu’s Madina Hospital, told the AP that 40 people were admitted there with wounds or injuries from the attack. While nine were sent home after getting treatment, five are in critical condition in the ICU, he said.
It is the biggest attack in Mogadishu since Somalia's new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was elected in May after many months of political instability.
The terrorist group, which has been waging a deadly insurgency against Somalia's fragile central government for about 15 years, claimed responsibility.
Mohamud said last month that ending Al Shabab's insurgency required more than a military approach, but that his government would negotiate with the group only when the time is right.
READ MORE: Bomb attacks hit Somalia, kill tens
Armed attackers have taken control of a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu following two car bomb blasts and gunfire pic.twitter.com/dn4z4QADiJ— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 19, 2022
In a Twitter post, the US Embassy in Somalia said it “strongly condemns” the attack on the Hayat.
Earlier this week, the United States announced that its forces had killed 13 Al Shabab militants in an air strike in the central-southern part of the country as the gunmen were attacking Somali forces.
The US has carried out several air raids on the group in strikes in recent weeks.
In recent weeks, Al Shabab militants have also waged attacks on the Somalia-Ethiopia border, raising concerns about a possible new strategy.
Al Shabab militants were driven out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force, but the group still controls swathes of countryside and frequently strikes civilian and military targets.
It continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian and military targets, with hotels a frequent target.
The United States strongly condemns the al-Shabaab hotel attack in #Mogadishu. We extend condolences to the families of loved ones killed, wish a full recovery to the injured, & pledge continued support for #Somalia to hold murderers accountable & build when others destroy. 🇺🇸🇸🇴— U.S. Embassy Mogadishu, Somalia (@US2SOMALIA) August 20, 2022