At least four people were killed in an ongoing attack by Al-Shabaab militants who laid siege to a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu overnight.
Gunfire and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after the militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets, AFP reported on Monday citing Mohamed Dahir a national security agency official.
Mohamed Dahir told AFP the gunmen were holed up in a room at the Villa Rose surrounded by government forces. He said:
So far we have confirmed the death of four people.
Very soon the situation will return to normal.
He added that others had been rescued from the besieged venue.
Dahir added that Government officials were among others injured.
The Villa Rose is frequented by MPs and located in a secure central part of the capital just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police said the gunmen rushed into the hotel in Bondhere district at around 8 pm on Sunday and an operation was underway to “eliminate” them.
More than 12 hours later, witnesses near the scene described still hearing loud explosions and gunfire.