At least eight civilians were killed after Al Shabab terrorists stormed a popular hotel in Mogadishu, a police spokesperson said.

Al Shabab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia's newly-elected government has pursued a policy of
Al Shabab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia's newly-elected government has pursued a policy of "all-out war" against the militants. (Reuters)

Somali security forces have ended a deadly hours-long siege by Al Shabab terrorists who stormed a popular hotel in the capital Mogadishu overnight, the national police spokesman has said. 

"The clearance operation in the Villa Rose hotel has ended, we will give the details later," Sadik Dudishe, a spokesman for the Somali national police, told reporters on Monday. 

At least eight civilians were killed in the siege, according to the police spokesman.

The Somali security forces exchanged gunfire with militants holed up in the Villa Rose, a hotel in a secure central part of the city frequented by lawmakers and public officials - a few blocks from the office of Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Witnesses described two massive explosions followed by gunfire that sent people fleeing the scene in Bondhere district.

Al Shabab, a terrorist organisation affiliated with Al Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia's central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the "swift" security response to the attack in a statement late on Sunday.

READ MORE: Heavy gunfire, explosion heard at hotel near Somali presidential palace

Series of retaliatory attacks

Al Shabab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia's newly-elected government has pursued a policy of "all-out war" against the militants.

The security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US air strikes, have driven Al Shabab from central parts of the country in recent months, but the offensive has drawn retribution.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.

At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces could take control from the militants inside.

The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al Shabab.

The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.

READ MORE: Somalia kills dozens of Al Shabab terrorists in military operation

Source: TRTWorld and agencies