By Mohammed Dhaysane
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - Somali security forces fighting al-Shabaab terrorists inside a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu ended the siege after nearly 30 hours of operations, a security official said on Sunday.
Security forces eliminated al-Shabaab terrorists and ended the siege which started on Friday evening in Hayat hotel, a security official who was part of the operations and asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to media, told Anadolu Agency over the phone.
He said there are more casualties, confirming that 20 people, including civilians and soldiers, were killed, while more than 30 wounded.
Meanwhile, the Somali government did not officially announce the casualties of the deadly attack on Hayat hotel in central Mogadishu.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said it had killed 40 people and wounded 70 others in the attack.
The hotel was frequented by government officials, humanitarian workers, and diaspora people who returned from abroad to help rebuild the country.
Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan of Aamin Ambulance, a free ambulance service that was part of emergency services and paramedics working to transport wounded to hospitals for treatment, told Anadolu Agency that despite difficulties regarding security and firefights, they recovered at least seven bodies and 11 wounded people.
The Hayat hotel attack and siege was the longest by the al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia and the deadliest upscale attack Mogadishu since new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in mid-May.
Abdi Ahmed, among those that were trapped in the hotel, was rescued by security forces during earlier hours of the attack.
He told Anadolu Agency that when the attack began, the hotel was busy, with many business people, traditional elders, government officials, and humanitarian workers having coffee.
"It was a nice Friday evening and everyone was happy and having fun but then shattered by double bombing followed by heavy gunfire.
"I was rushed to the cooking room and there was confusion and people running around and everybody trying to hide as the siege unfolded and some hid in bathrooms,” he said.