MOGADISHU, Somalia — A militant attack on a beachside hotel in Somalia’s capital killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens of others on Sunday, according to police officers and a government spokesman.
The Islamist insurgent group the Shabab, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the assault, which turned into a nearly five-hour siege and gun battle between the attackers and Somali security forces.
Security forces later killed all four attackers and rescued dozens of people who were trapped inside the Elite Hotel in Mogadishu, Ismail Mukhtar, a spokesman for Somalia’s information ministry, told The Associated Press. The hotel is new and popular with young people.
The attack started in the afternoon with a powerful car bomb blast that blew off the security gates of the hotel. Then gunmen ran inside and took hostages, mostly young men and women who were dining there, Mr. Mukhtar said.
Ambulance sirens could be heard in the area, whose power went out when the attack started.
As the power of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups has waned in recent years, the Shabab, based in Somalia, has remained resilient.
Last week, inmates at Mogadishu’s central prison staged an uprising that ended with several people dead and several others injured. Officials said the prisoners, at least some of them reportedly belonging to the Shabab, had seized weapons from guards.
The worst recent attack attributed to the Shabab took place in December, when a truck bombing killed more than 80 people in Mogadishu. Days, later, the group attacked a military base in Kenya, killing three Americans.
The group has targeted hotels several times in the past, including major attacks in Mogadishu and Nairobi, Kenya, in early 2019.