At least 19 people were killed when Islamist attackers launched a car bomb and gun attack on a busy hotel and adjacent restaurant in the Somali capital, a police officer said on Thursday.
A car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into the Posh Hotel in south Mogadishu on Wednesday evening before gunmen rushed into a Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage. Posh Hotel is the only venue with a discotheque in the capital. Abdi Bashir told Reuters that the Somali security forces took control of the restaurant at midnight after the gunmen held hostages inside for several hours. Five of the gunmen were killed, Bashir said.
Extremist snipers fired on security troops who surrounded the restaurant building and used big guns mounted on the backs of vehicles to neutralize militants. Soldiers entered the ground floor while the insurgent attackers held positions upstairs.
“We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber,” Bashir told Reuters by phone. Witnesses said there were bodies lying at the scene on Thursday morning as ambulances came to take them away.
Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack.