Somalia: 19 dead after suicide bomber targets Mogadishu restaurant
Armed security forces and rescue personnel are seen at the scene of an attack outside an hotel in Mogadishu. Photograph: (Reuters)
At least 19 people were killed after militants of the Islamist Al Shabaab group launched a suicide bomb and gun attack in a hotel and an adjoining restaurant in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday.
A car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into the Posh Hotel in south Mogadishu before gunmen rushed into Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage.
District police chief Abdi Bashir told Reuters Somali security forces took back control of the restaurant at midnight after the gunmen had held hostages inside for several hours. Five of the gunmen were killed, Bashir said.
Another 27 civilians were taken to hospital with various injuries, ambulance services said.
"We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber," he told Reuters.
Police cordoned off the whole district surrounding the Pizza House and the hotel, the only venue with a discotheque in the capital.
The spokesman for the country's interior ministry, Ahmed Mohamud Adow, said the dead included a Syrian national who worked at the restaurant.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported.
The group has carried out a campaign of suicide bombings in its bid to topple the Somali government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam.
The Horn of Africa country has been racked by armed conflict since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.