Death toll rises to 31 in suicide attack & hostage situation in Somali capital – police

Death toll rises to 31 in suicide attack & hostage situation in Somali capital – police
At least 31 people were killed and 40 wounded in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, when a car bomb exploded outside a hotel and gunmen stormed a popular restaurant next door, where they took dozens hostage.

The death toll in a car bomb attack and hostage situation in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has risen to 31, local police said, according to AP. Nearly 40 people were also wounded in the bombing, authorities confirmed.

Abdi Bashir, a Somali police officer, told Reuters that security forces entered the restaurant at midnight after the gunmen had held hostages there for several hours. Five hostage-takers were killed in the clash, Bashir added.

Earlier, local officers said that a terrorist drove his car into the entrance of the Posh Hotel in the center of the city.

Police, cited by AP, said that following the blast, the gunmen got into the Pizza House, taking dozens of visitors hostage.

The police later said that at least 20 people were being held by the terrorists.

Police said they had rescued 10 people from the besieged restaurant, but an unknown number of hostages are still trapped inside.

"The fighters are still inside the Pizza House (restaurant) and they are holding over 20 people. We do not know how many of those are dead or alive," said Major Ibrahim Hussein, as cited by Reuters.

Witnesses said that they heard gunfire on the scene, with the city center area remaining cordoned off by the police.

The attack has been claimed by Al-Shaabab, an African Al-Qaeda affiliated group seeking to reinstate Sharia Law over certain countries, including Somalia.

Back in 2011, the group lost large portions of Somalia’s territory to African Union peacekeeping troops that were sent in to support the local government. However, the militant group still controls much of the country and has made a number of high-profile incursions and carried out terror attacks in Mogadishu.

Somalia has been ravaged by war and low-intensity conflicts since the removal of its long-serving ruler Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.