Somalia’s security forces ended a deadly siege of a beachfront restaurant in the capital, with more than 20 people killed in the attack, a police official said Friday.
The security forces took control of the restaurant just before dawn, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, speaking from the scene of the attack in Mogadishu.
It was not clear whether Hussein’s report of more than 20 killed included the assailants.
Blasts and bursts of gunfire could be heard as Somali special forces went from room to room pursuing the Shabab gunmen who were holed up inside the restaurant.
Hussein said the security forces rescued many who had been trapped inside the restaurant’s hall, where a party was taking place when the attack started on Thursday.
Witnesses said that gunmen shouted, “Allahu akbar” -- God is great -- and entered the restaurant from the direction of the beach as people sitting behind razor wire watched the seashore.
“They randomly fired at people sitting near the beach before entering the restaurant,” said Ahmed Nur, who was strolling along the shore when the attack happened.
Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a broadcast on its online radio late Thursday.
The Al Qaeda-linked militant group attacked Kenyan peacekeepers in southwestern Somalia last week. It said it had killed about 100 Kenyans and seized weapons and military vehicles. The Kenyan government has given no death toll, but said there were fatalities.
Despite being pushed out of Somalia’s major cities and towns, Shabab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the Horn of Africa country. African Union troops, government officials and foreigners are frequently targeted.