Over 19 Killed in Hotel Attack in Somalia's Capital

Over 19 Killed in Hotel Attack in Somalia's Capital

At least nine people were killed as a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden vehicle into a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

The United Nations envoy for Somalia on Thursday strongly condemned last night's attack on a pizza restaurant and an adjacent hotel in Mogadishu that reportedly killed at least 19 people.

Witnesses said there were bodies lying at the scene on Thursday morning as ambulances came to take them away. Residents reported gunshots during the night.

Khalif Dahir with the Amin Ambulance service says they also have carried 26 wounded people. He did not identify the dead Syrian who local residents said worked as a chef at the Pizza House. Another picture showed relatives of the victims killed in the attack weeping outside the building.

"The operation is over now and the gunmen were killed by the security forces", said Mohamed Ahmed Arab, spokesman for Somalia┬┤s security ministry.

The al-Shabab militant group said it carried out the attack. "Eastern Daylight Time, the Department of Defense conducted a strike operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement on Sunday.

While al-Shabaab claimed to have attacked the neighbouring Posh Treats restaurant, which is often visited by the city's elite, security officials claim that the Pizza House was targeted instead. It has vowed to step up attacks after the newly elected government launched an intensified military offensive to combat the terror group.

According to the report, five special forces members also died during a fierce gun battle with the al-Shabab militants in the restaurant.

On Sunday, the USA military in Africa said it executed an airstrike in southern Somalia that killed eight Islamic extremists.

Seven people died in a May 8 auto bombing at another restaurant in the capital.

Troops from the African Union forced al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011, but much of the country is still under control of the militants.