The death toll from an attack on a Mogaishu hotel by the Al-Shabaab militant group has risen to 12, medical and security sources have said.
According to the sources, the death toll is not final due to the severity of injuries sustained by several attack victims.
Earlier in the day, Somali Special Forces stormed the Makkah al-Mukarama Hotel, liberating hostages taken earlier by Al-Shabaab militants and killing the attackers, a government official said.
Information Minister Mohamed Hayir Maareeye said earlier that elite forces had stormed the hotel “to put an end to this terrorist attack.”
Government officials confirmed that Somali Ambassador to Switzerland Yusuf Baribari was killed in the attack.
According to the sources, dozens were seriously wounded, raising fears that the death toll may rise further in coming hours.
A final death toll from Friday’s attack has yet to be released by the authorities, while the number of perpetrators also remains unclear.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud condemned the attack, saying it would only bolster the government’s resolve to protect Somalis from “terrorist attacks.”
He also praised the security forces’ efforts to counter the attackers.
The attack began with the detonation of a car bomb at the rear entrance of the hotel, before militants forced their way into the building.
Shortly afterward, a militant blew himself up inside the hotel.
Al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on several of the group’s affiliated websites.
Group spokesman Abdel-Aziz Abu Musab was quoted as saying that militants had stormed the hotel, which, he asserted, had been “accommodating apostates.”
Al-Shabaab had controlled much of central and southern Somalia for years, but recently lost significant ground to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali army troops.
Nevertheless, the group has continued to stage regular attacks on government officials and security personnel.
The Horn of Africa country has remained in relative turmoil since the ouster of Siad Barre in 1991.