The Somalia government says an attack launched Friday by al-Shabab militants on a Mogadishu hotel has ended.
State media report that security forces successfully neutralized the militants who stormed the Pearl Beach Hotel on Friday evening and rescued a large number of civilians.
There was no immediate word on any deaths. Earlier, the director of Aamin ambulance service Abdikadir Abdirahman told local media that his service had received more than six people who had been wounded at the hotel.
Somalia security forces had engaged in ongoing efforts to neutralize al-Shabab militants who launched the attack at the beachfront hotel.
Witnesses told VOA's Somali Service that the assault began with at least two explosions outside the Pearl Beach Hotel, followed by gunmen storming the hotel.
Gunfire was heard with an unknown number of people trapped inside the building, witnesses said, while others managed to escape through the back doors and windows.
'Special elite forces gained access to the entry into the upper floors of the hotel,' one witness told VOA Somali.
Al-Shabab group, affiliated with al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
'The mujahideen managed to enter the Pearl Beach hotel and are still fully in control' the group said in a statement.
The hotel at the center of the attack is near Lido Beach, a popular destination for politicians and members of the Somali diaspora visiting the capital city.
This incident occurred during a period of relative calm for Mogadishu after the government in mid-April deployed newly trained military police in and around the city. However, violence by the group has wreaked havoc in other parts of the country.
In a separate incident on Friday, at least 27 people including children were killed and more than 50 were injured in a massive blast from unexploded ordinance in the village of Muraale, located between Qoryooley and Jannaale districts.
'Some individuals had retrieved unexploded explosives from a nearby field and used it for fire to cook food, but tragically, the device exploded, resulting in the deaths of 27 people, including children, mother, father, and youths,' Abdirahman Yusuf Abdinur, the mayor of Jannaale, told Somalia state media agency.
Earlier Friday, Somalia announced its readiness to take over security responsibilities from the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in the country, with 2,000 AU troops set to leave Somalia by the end of June, in line with U.N. Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670.
Somalia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it has recruited enough security forces who will assume control of the security responsibilities currently handled by the outgoing AU troops.
The AU peace mission is expected to fully exit Somalia by Dec. 31, 2024.
This story originated in VOA's Somali Service.