At least 17 people have been killed in an attack on a beachside restaurant in the Somali capital. The al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab took responsibility for the siege, in which four of their gunmen were also killed.
Islamist gunmen detonated a bomb late on Thursday before storming the restaurant in Mogadishu's Lido beach area, which is popular with Somali government officials and entrepreneurs.
Witnesses said the gunmen were heard shouting "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great," as they launched their attack and began firing randomly.
Security forces were able to rescue many of those who were trapped inside the building.
"The operation ended at 3 a.m. (0000 UTC) last night, and at least 17 civilians were killed," police officer Osman Nur told Reuters news agency on Friday.
'Barbaric and brutal'
Somali police officer Mohamed Abdirahman described Thursday's siege as a "barbaric and brutal attack against innocent civilians."
In a broadcast on the group's Radio Andalus, Islamist al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a "major operation against the enemy of Allah."
Al-Shabab, whose members are fighting to overthrow Somalia's internationally backed government, has carried out regular attacks in Mogadishu.
The siege on Thursday came less than a week after al-Shabab fighters attacked an African Union military base in southwestern Somalia. The terror group claims they killed about 100 Kenyan soldiers. The Kenyan government, however, has not yet confirmed the death toll.
ksb/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)