Battle rages after Mogadishu hotel attack, death toll nears 30

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At least 19 people have been killed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, ambulance workers said Friday, as security forces fought to end a almost 20-hour siege by Al-Shabaab insurgents.

Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press that an operation to clear the besieged buildings had begun, with bodies found.

Flames burn at the scene where a auto exploded in Maka Al Mukaram Street last night. One of the bombs in the attack went off near the home of appeals court chief Judge Abshir Omar, and security forces fought off gunmen who tried to force their way inside. "But anything can happen because it is dark in some of the buildings because the blast cut the electric wires", he said.

The attack was launched late on Thursday by suspected al-Shabab militants in an area lined with hotels, shops and restaurants. Dozens of cars caught fire along busy Maka Almukarramah Road.

Shortly after the detonation, at least four gunmen running on foot opened fire at nearby buildings and business, sparking clashes with security forces stationed nearby and hotel guards, he said. Official estimates provided to the media on Friday morning counted about half as many dead and injured, but said the numbers were likely to rise, especially since the area around the hotel was packed with diners and shoppers when the unusual nighttime attack began.

US airstrikes have killed another 26 members of the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia, officials said on Friday, in a continuation of recent attacks that had already killed 55 earlier this week. The extremist group has targeted it multiple times, killing scores of people.

A number of civilians were rescued from the building.

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Some of the wounded lost limbs, said Sadiya Yusuf, a nurse at Daru Shifa, one of the hospitals treating victims. I have just seen them in hospital.

Heavy gunfire rang out across central Mogadishu on Friday as Somali special forces battled to dislodge insurgents holed up next to a hotel they bombed the previous evening, and as the death toll stemming from that attack neared 30.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conveyed a condolence message to Somali's Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, following a deadly terror attack in Mogadishu on Thursday, February 28.

It came after the USA military carried out a number of deadly airstrikes in recent days against al-Shabab, considered the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

Somalia's information minister said on Friday afternoon that the use of human shields by al-Shabab had prlonged the siege.

The US has dramatically increased airstrikes against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, Africa's deadliest extremist group, since President Donald Trump took office. The US military reported carrying out 50 strikes in Somalia in 2018.

Associated Press video journalist Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu, Somalia contributed.

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