Mogadishu, Somalia – Muslim extremists linked to al-Qaeda stormed Saturday a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, where at least 15 people were killed as a result of a series of attacks. Gunmen from the al-Shabaab terror group took an unspecified number of hotel guests as hostages after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car at the hotel entrance. The gate was ripped off and, once inside, the militants began shooting at everyone they could see, a witness told the Associated Press.

The terror group took over social media platforms to claim responsibility for the attack. In a statement distributed through the Telegram smartphone app, al-Shabaab informed that the suicide attacker driving a car bomb had led the assault.

Somalia terror attack
After a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside Nasa-Hablod hotel, gunmen stormed inside the hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing at least 15 people. Credit: Chicago Tribune

The report reveals that the number of casualties was at least 20 civilians and guards. The group tends to indicate a death toll higher than that spread by the Government.

“We attacked the hotel which was frequented by the apostate government members,” as told to Reuters by al Shabaab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab.

Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said some of the 15 fatal victims confirmed died in the hospitals. Among the deaths were women who were outside the hotel selling a stimulant leaf commonly used by Somali men, Hussein informed.

After having been ousted from most of the cities, the extremists, who are based in Somalia, have been conducting a deadly insurgency across the country, and suicide car bomb attacks are often used to penetrate targets that are typically heavily fortified. In the latest assault, carried out in Nasa-Hablod hotel, security forces pursued the four gunmen thought to have been involved in the attack.

Security forces killed two of the attackers, Hussein affirmed, while police and medical workers declared that another nine people ended up injured.

“We have finally ended the siege. The last remaining militants were killed on the top floor,” police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said, according to NBC News.

Police said the gunmen had managed to retreat the upper floors by throwing grenades and setting up sniper posts.

The attack occurred during the Muslim holy month known as Ramadan, during which extremists are often behind attacks in Somalia.

A hotel staffer told the AP that the extremists who entered the hotel and fired bullets everywhere were “devils” who do not care about death and love. The gunmen shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they stormed the place.

An ambulance driver called Yusuf Ali said he evacuated 11 wounded people to hospitals and that most of them had been injured in crossfire, according to The Associated Press.

Previous attacks

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for assaults that have represented enormous challenges to the Somali and government African Union forces, which are clearly struggling at securing the nation.

Two members of parliament were killed in June as an extremist gunmen killed at least 15 people at the capital’s Ambassador Hotel during an overnight siege that was quickly claimed by al-Shabaab.

In April, at least five people were killed by a car bomb outside a restaurant in Mogadishu.

And an assault in February killed at least nine civilians when extremists targeted a public garden and another Mogadishu hotel.

Source: NBC News