This story has been updated.
UPDATE 11:58 a.m. EDT:
The gunfire has stopped, but the death toll from an attack by Islamic extremist group al Shabab at the Maka Al Mukaram hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, has left at least 24 dead, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. Officials said special forces have killed three of the alleged attackers and declared that they have full control of the hotel Saturday.
At least 15 people have died after al Shabab militants laid seige to a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in a battle which lasted from Friday into Saturday. Militants from the group entered the Maka Al Mukaram hotel, trapping serveral government officials inside. Reports said that one of victims was a United Nations diplomat.
Somali security forces, led by U.S.-trained "Gaashaan" troops, entered the hotel Friday evening, engaging the militants until they ended the siege Saturday, Reuters reported. An al Shabab spokesperson said in a statement that some of its members had died during clashes with security forces during the attack. It said others had escaped, and threatened further violence.
"At least 15 people died, including Somalia's ambassador to Geneva, and at least 20 others were wounded," Colonel Farah Aden, a senior police officer, told Reuters, adding: "Those who died include civilians, hotel guards and government soldiers."
Media outlets have given varying estimates as to the number of people killed in the attack and ensuing seige. CNN estimated that at least 20 people were killed. An Associated Press report said that at least 17 people were dead, with dozens wounded in the 12-hour siege. It was however, not clear how many al Shabab militants were killed.
The attack started Friday, when a car bomb exploded at the hotel's gate, witnesses said, according to CNN. Gunmen then moved into the hotel and opened fire. Police Capt. Ahmed Abdi reportedly said that one of the attackers was wearing an explosive belt and blew himself up inside the hotel. Al Shabab reportedly said that the hotel was targeted because it hosted spies and government officials, whom they have been fighting against.
Al Shabab, which is linked to al Qaeda, has carried out a campaign of terror attacks across Somalia and neighboring Kenya in recent years. The group controlled most of Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011, but was later pushed out by African Union Forces, the AP reported.
In February, the group claimed that it had killed at least 20 government officials in an attack on the Central Hotel in Mogadishu. Somalia’s deputy prime minister was also reportedly wounded in the attack.