UPDATE 2 – Somali forces end hours-long siege in hotel attack

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – Somali special forces ended a four-hour-long siege by al-Shabaab militants of a popular hotel in the capital late Sunday, a government spokesman told Anadolu Agency.

At least 16 people, including officials and civilians, are among the dead.

Ismail Mukhtar said all of the militants who stormed the Elite Hotel in Mogadishu after a car bomb blast at its gate had been killed.

He said a security official was killed during fierce fighting between security forces and militants in the hotel.

"Security forces managed to rescue at least 205 people, including cabinet ministers, lawmakers and civilians during the operation,” Guled Salad, a police official, said by phone.

"My heart goes out to the families of the victims of #LiidoAttack. Truly unfortunate to learn of the attack against valuable citizens and innocent souls. Let's remain inspired by our strength in resilience and recovery and not be dispirited by distraught thoughts. Peace shall win," Presidential Communications Director Abdinour Mohamed Ahmed said on Twitter.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ismail Mukhtar Oronjo, a government spokesman, told Anadolu Agency earlier that Abdirizaq Abdi Abdullahi, a top official at the Information Ministry, was among those killed.

“More than 18, including Gulmudug State Public Works Minister Ahmed Dhiblawe Asir, were wounded in the attack," said Oronjo.

Ilyas Ali Hassan, a Somali senator, said several senior officials were evacuated.

"Those rescued included the owner [of the hotel], who is a former state minister of finance and current MP," Hassan said.

Ambulances transported the injured from the explosion, Abdulkadir Adan, who heads the ambulance service, said on Twitter.

The incident marks the second deadly attack in two weeks in Mogadishu.

At least 19 people were killed and several others wounded last Tuesday when al-Shabaab militants attacked a central prison in Mogadishu.

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