Somali security forces have ended an hours-long siege by Al-Shabaab militants who stormed a popular hotel in the capital Mogadishu overnight, killing eight civilians, the national police spokesperson said on Monday.
The attack by the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents began around 20:00 on Sunday in a hail of gunfire and explosions, as they besieged the Villa Rose hotel which is frequented by parliamentarians and other government officials.
Around 21 hours after the attack started, Sadik Dudishe, a spokesperson for the national police, told reporters "the clearance operation in the Villa Rose hotel has ended."
The jihadists "killed eight civilians who stayed in the hotel and the security forces succeeded in rescuing about 60 civilians, no one among the civilians was wounded," he added.
One member of the security forces also died in the operation, he said.
The Villa Rose is located in a "secure" central part of the capital just a few blocks from the office of Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, raising questions about how the militants were able to evade the numerous checkpoints in the area.
Al-Shabaab, which has been trying to overthrow Somalia's central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The group has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia's recently elected government has pursued a policy of "all-out war" against the Islamists.