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United Nations condemns attack on hotel, restaurant in Mogadishu

United Nations condemns attack on hotel, restaurant in Mogadishu

At least 19 civilians were killed when Islamist attackers launched a vehicle bomb and gun attack on a busy hotel and an adjacent restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a police officer said on Thursday.

All five attackers were killed after their attempt against Pizza House, a restaurant that is reportedly popular with young Somalis.

The two restaurants offer food, spa, lodging, snooker and shisha as well as refreshments, and is popular with Somalis from the diaspora.

"The fighters are still inside Pizza House and they hold inside over 20 people", Ibrahim Hussein, a police major, told Reuters.

The extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility. Find us on Facebook too!

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A particularly deadly Shabab strike on a busy market left 39 people dead in February, while a twin auto bomb attack by the group on a popular Mogadishu hotel left 28 dead in January.

Security officials said a gunman first rammed an explosive-laden auto into the gate of the hotel while other gunmen stormed in.

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed confirmed the air strike and said such attacks would disrupt the group's ability to conduct new attacks.

Numerous 31 victims were killed at point-blank range, Hussein said. Survivors of the attack were led by soldiers from the Pizza House restaurant building.

Witnesses, including a VOA reporter who was at the scene, said they heard a hail of bullets and explosions as the special Somali forces known as Danab, or "lightning", pushed forward to end the siege.

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Two of the gunmen have been shot dead by security forces and 10 hostages have been rescued, including Asians, Kenyans and Ethiopians.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints and areas near the presidential palace.

Gunmen stormed a restaurant adjacent to the hotel, another police officer said, but was unable to provide details.

It claimed more than 4,200 lives in 2016, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and is estimated to have between 7,000 and 9,000 members.

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