The explosion destroyed the front of the three-storey hotel and a next door hotel was also damaged. Photograph:( Reuters )
An Islamist attack on a hotel in the Somali capital ended on Sunday after 25 people had been killed in a near 12-hour siege, police said, underlining the insurgents' ability to carry out deadly attacks in the heart of the city.
The attack began around at 5 pm on Saturday with a car bomb. Gunmen then stormed the building after the bomb had destroyed its defences. The siege ended on Sunday morning.
"Al Shabaab fighters attacked the hotel and two of them were killed and they are laying in front of the hotel and three others were captured live," security spokesman Abdiaziz Ali Ibrahim said, speaking at the scene.
Islamist group al Shabaab claimed the attack on Saturday. They want to overthrow the weak, UN-backed government and impose a strict form of Islamic law.
Police officer Major Mohamad Hussein told Reuters 25 people had been killed, but the death toll may rise, he added.
A Reuters witness saw seven bodies lying inside the hotel.
The explosion destroyed the front of the three-storey hotel and a next door hotel was also damaged. Many Somali officials live in fortified hotels because they offer better security from attack.