The Health Ministry said that 21 people have been confirmed dead in this 30-hour process. Officials said the fight to retake the hotel ended overnight.

The attackers used explosives to enter the Hyatt Hotel in Mogadishu before violently taking control.

The Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“I want to inform all Somalis that the operation at the hotel ended at midnight,” police commander Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijra told reporters at a briefing near the site of the attack.

“It is shocking that innocent lives have been lost here… Security forces were engaged in rescuing people one by one and in groups.”

Health Minister Ali Haji Aden said the death toll could rise as there was a possibility that family members may have collected the bodies of relatives before the official count was done. He said that 117 people have been injured, out of which 15 are in critical condition.

The hotel has been largely destroyed after fierce fighting between militants and security forces during Friday night and Saturday, with videos showing explosions and smoke billowing out of the building’s roof.

Abdislam Guled, former deputy director of Somalia’s national intelligence agency, told the BBC: “The shelling, being next to the explosions has been terrifying, really terrifying. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen in Mogadishu.” ,

Who is Somalia’s Al-Shabaab?

A police officer told Reuters that two car bombs were used to reach the hotel on Friday evening – targeting its front barrier and the gate.

After the initial attack, a website affiliated with al-Shabaab said that a group of militants were firing “random shots” after “forcibly entered” the hotel – which is known to be a popular place for federal government employees to meet. was described in.

Security forces struggled for hours to reach the hotel’s upper floors as gunmen, who were taking an unknown number of people hostage, reportedly bombed the stairs leading to the entrance.

An ally of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab is engaged in a long-running conflict with the federal government.

The group controls much of southern and central Somalia, but has been able to expand its influence into government-controlled areas based in Mogadishu.

In recent weeks, fighters affiliated with the group have also attacked targets on the Somalia-Ethiopia border, raising concerns about a possible new strategy by al-Shabaab.

Friday’s attack is the group’s first attack in the capital since Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamed, was elected in May.

Hotels and restaurants have often been targets, but Mogadishu saw its deadliest attack in October 2017, when a truck loaded with explosives exploded at one of the city’s busiest squares, killing more than 500 people.

Neither group said it was behind that attack, although reporters say there are all indications that al-Shabaab was responsible.

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