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Al-Shabaab kills at least 12 in Somalia hotel siege

An ambulance drives along a deserted street near the scene of an al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group militant attack at Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, Somalia August 20, 2022.(Photo by Reuters)

At least 12 people have been killed in the attack by al-Shabaab Takfiri militant group on a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, that authorities are still battling to end.

Police said the attackers set off two explosions outside the Hotel Hayat on Friday evening before entering the building and opening fire.

The explosions sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy junction on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire still crackled across the capital by 0700 GMT on Saturday.

"Two car bombs targeted Hotel Hayat," a police officer told Reuters. "One hit a barrier near the hotel, and then the other hit the gate of the hotel. We believe the fighters are inside the hotel."

"So far we have confirmed 12 people, mostly civilians, died," Mohammed, an intelligence officer who only gave one name, told the news agency. "The operation is about to be concluded but it is still going on."

It is said that a special police unit rescued dozens of hotel guests and employees.

"The security forces continued to neutralize terrorists who have been cordoned inside a room in the hotel building," said an official, Mohamed Abdikadir.

Nine people were also injured and taken to medical centers, according to the head of Mogadishu's Aamin ambulance services, Abdikadir Abdirahman.

Large sections of the hotel, which is a popular location for government officials, lawmakers and political figures, were destroyed by the militant group, according to Somali officials.

An African Union force pushed Al-Shabaab militants out of the capital in 2011. The group, however, still controls swathes of countryside, and takes random spots across the country under sporadic attacks from time to time.

Back in May, at least three civilians were killed and a number of others wounded after the group raided a military camp belonging to an African Union mission in central Somalia.

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

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