At least 20 people have now died in the long siege that took place in a Mogadishu hotel between Friday evening and Saturday night. For over 30 hours security forces fought with Al-Shabaab militants hiding inside the Hayat hotel and filling it with explosives. Authorities said more than 106 hostages were freed.
Abdullahi Maalin Gaafoow said he was inside with two friends, who got up to leave a few moments before the attack began."Just minutes before the blasts, two of my friends, may God grant them paradise, named Hassan Yalahow and Abdirashid, told me they would be leaving, but seconds later they were both killed by the blast". The politician described the scene of terror after the first explosions, _"_People fled in confusion. They were all running towards the place where they thought they would be safe. The hotel began to fill with smoke and flames and I immediately saw one of the hotel's bodyguards bleeding and another man wounded".
The attack started with two suicide bombings followed by an assault by multiple gunmen who entered the building, targeted civilians and later holed up in rooms. Al-Shabaab an al-Qaeda-linked group that frequently perpetrates assaults to try to destabilize the government claimed responsibility for the operation. The hotel was largely destroyed during the battle and its manager warned explosives could still be hidden inside.