At least 18 killed in Mogadishu restaurant attack

At least six dead in Mogadishu restaurant suicide bombing

At least six dead in Mogadishu restaurant suicide bombing

The attack began with a auto bomb in front of the Posh Hotel, frequented by foreigners, and then moved on to gunfire in a restaurant nearby, according to news from the New York Times.

"Last night's attack was clearly aimed at civilians who were breaking the fast", Keating said in a statement. Gunmen then entered the Pizza House restaurant next door, seizing hostages.

The gunmen reportedly spent the night seeking out people still hiding at the venue and shooting them.

According to Aamin Ambulance services in Mogadishu, they had taken 26 injured people to the hospital. Numerous first victims were young men who had been entering the Pizza House when the bomb went off, Hussein said. The source said three men were killed in an explosion from a grenade thrown by the militants.

The bodies of five girls were found in the restaurant, police said.

"Our security forces have ended the siege, we have also killed five al-Shabaab members", Internal Security Ministry spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud told reporters.

"The US conducted this operation in coordination with its regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabaab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces". Although the number of hostages was unconfirmed as of Thursday, the group is known to kill its hostages instead of holding them ransom.

The building was secured after dawn on Thursday, said senior Somali police office Mohamed Hussein.

Pictures taken from the scene showed the bodies of several women in one of the rooms.

Witness Nur Yasin told AP that the gunmen "were dressed in military uniforms". The operation goes on, ' he said.

Militants from the al-Shabab group held about 20 hostages during a shoot-out with police, which has now ended. On Sunday, the USA military reported that it killed eight Islamic extremists in an airstrike on a rebel command and logistics camp in the country's south.

Al-Shabab, which translate to "The Youth" in Arabic, is an Al-Qaeda-linked group that has been active since 2006 but has recently emerged as the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

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