At least 15 dead after gunmen storm Hayat hotel and open fire in siege

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AT least 15 people have been killed after Islamic militants stormed a hotel in Somalia’s capital.

The attackers blasted their way into the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu on Friday evening with two car bombs before opening fire in a horror siege.

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At least 15 people have been killed in the siegeCredit: EPA

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Gunmen stormed the Hayat Hotel in SomaliaCredit: Reuters

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Somali security officers are seen at a section of the hotelCredit: Reuters

Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility.

It’s feared the death toll could rise as several people were injured in the attack and had to be taken to hospital as others, including kids, were rescued.

The detonations sent huge plumes of smoke over the busy junction on Friday night, and the sound of gunfire still crackled across the capital early on Saturday.

Sounds of explosions punctuated the night as government forces tried to wrest control of the hotel back from the militants, witnesses said.

Large sections of the hotel were destroyed by the fighting, they said.

Authorities were still trying to get control back on Saturday morning as security forces tried to contain the gunmen, thought to have been holed up on the hotel’s first floor.

One witness, Abdullahi Hussein, told AP: “We were having tea near the hotel lobby when we heard the first blast followed by gunfire.

“I immediately rushed toward hotel rooms on the ground floor, and I locked (it).

“The militants went straight upstairs and started shooting.

“I was inside the room until the security forces arrived and rescued me.”

He said that on his way to safety he saw “several bodies lying on the ground outside hotel reception.”

Friday’s attack was the first major attack since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist group statements.

Al Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than ten years.

It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Hayat Hotel is a popular venue with lawmakers and other government officials.

There was no immediate information on whether any of them had been caught up in the siege.

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