Somali security forces have ended a siege by Al-Shabab militants who attacked a hotel in Mogadishu overnight, a police spokesperson said on Monday.
At least eight civilians, six soldiers and one militant were killed in the siege, according to police. Authorities said they managed to rescue 60 people.
Security forces were trying to flush out the armed assailants from the hotel, police spokesperson Sadik Dodishe told state media.
He added that scores of people were rescued from the Villa Rose hotel, which is located near the presidential palace in the capital's secure central area.
"A team of al-Shabab fighters attacked a commercial hotel in Bondhere district tonight," Dodishe said in statement, adding, "The security forces are engaging in an effort to eliminate them."
Witnesses said there were loud explosions followed by gunfire at the site.
The hotel was popular with government and security officials.
The attack comes amid a new offensive by the Somali government against the terror group, which controls large parts of central and southern Somalia.
Somalia's parliament said in a Facebook statement that it was postponing sessions for both of its houses while the attack was ongoing.
Who are the al-Shabab?
Al-Shabab, which means "the Youth," aims to overthrow Somalia's federal government in Mogadishu and seize power.
It wants to enforce a strict interpretation of Shariah, or Islamic law, across the country.
The terror group has previously carried out public stoning and amputations of suspected adulterers and thieves.
It also prohibits the shaving of beards for men and has banned entertainment such as music and movies.
The group's leadership officially pledged allegiance to the al-Qaida terror network in 2012.
The US State Department has designated al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization.
Somalia sees rise in attacks
Despite being weakened by the counterterrorism efforts of the African Union-led peacekeeping mission, al-Shabab regularly carries out attacks in Somalia.
It frequently targets hotels and restaurants, as well as military bases for government troops and foreign peacekeepers.
Last month at least 120 people were killed in two car bombings at a busy junction in Mogadishu.
According to the UN, more than 613 civilians have been killed and more than 940 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to al-Shabab.
The figures represented an increase of 30% over last year. The casualty figures are the highest recorded since 2017.
sri/ar (AP, AFP, Reuters)